Risk stratification in the asymptomatic child with Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome

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Purpose of review

As the safety and efficacy of invasive electrophysiologic studies and ablation therapy in pediatrics improves, there has been a greater interest in developing adequate risk stratification criteria for the asymptomatic pediatric patient with Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome. This review will discuss the recent literature regarding this debate.

Recent findings

Recent retrospective and prospective studies of Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome in asymptomatic pediatric patients have shown that the well established adult criteria for risk stratification may not be applicable in children. Both symptomatic and asymptomatic children had similar accessory pathway effective refractory periods and supraventricular tachycardia inducibility in recent invasive electrophysiologic studies. The first attempt at prospective evaluation of the use of ablation therapy in asymptomatic adult and pediatric patients with the condition has sparked a debate as to the definition of a high-risk patient and the utility of ablation in the asymptomatic patient.


It is still controversial whether the established criteria for risk stratification in adults can be confidently applied to the pediatric patient. The majority of pediatric electrophysiologists use invasive electrophysiologic studies for risk stratification and selection of appropriate therapy. This clinical practice reflects the increasing prevalence and safety of electrophysiologic study and ablation. Further studies to better define indications for study and ablation are still necessary, however, to define accurate criteria for risk stratification in this difficult pediatric problem.

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