Accurate Depth of Radiofrequency-Induced Lesions in Renal Sympathetic Denervation Based on a Fine Histological Sectioning Approach in a Porcine Model

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Background—Ablation lesion depth caused by radiofrequency-based renal denervation (RDN) was limited to <4 mm in previous animal studies, suggesting that radiofrequency-RDN cannot ablate a substantial percentage of renal sympathetic nerves. We aimed to define the true lesion depth achieved with radiofrequency-RDN using a fine sectioning method and to investigate biophysical parameters that could predict lesion depth.Methods and Results—Radiofrequency was delivered to 87 sites in 14 renal arteries from 9 farm pigs at various ablation settings: 2, 4, 6, and 9 W for 60 seconds and 6 W for 120 seconds. Electric impedance and electrode temperature were recorded during ablation. At 7 days, 2470 histological sections were obtained from the treated arteries. Maximum lesion depth increased at 2 to 6 W, peaking at 6.53 (95% confidence interval, 4.27–8.78) mm under the 6 W/60 s condition. It was not augmented by greater power (9 W) or longer duration (120 seconds). There were statistically significant tendencies at 6 and 9 W, with higher injury scores in the media, nerves, arterioles, and fat. Maximum lesion depth was positively correlated with impedance reduction and peak electrode temperature (Pearson correlation coefficients were 0.59 and 0.53, respectively).Conclusions—Lesion depth was 6.5 mm for radiofrequency-RDN at 6 W/60 s. The impedance reduction and peak electrode temperature during ablation were closely associated with lesion depth. Hence, these biophysical parameters could provide prompt feedback during radiofrequency-RDN procedures in the clinical setting.

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