Open irrigated radiofrequency (RF) ablation catheters with a porous tip (56 holes, TC-SF) permit delivering RF energy in a temperature-controlled mode without temperature rise. This prospective observational study investigated the association of different catheter parameters on the occurrence of audible steam pops during left atrial (LA) ablation.Methods and Results:
A total of 226 patients underwent TC-SF catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation. RF power delivery, impedance and catheter tip temperature were continually recorded throughout the ablation. Pulmonary vein isolation was performed with a maximum of 27 W and LA electrogram-guided or linear ablation with a maximum of 30 W. A total of 59 audible steam pops occurred, 2 of them resulting in pericardial tamponade. In the initial 89 patients, with an irrigation flow rate of 10 mL/min, 18 steam pops with one tamponade occurred in 12 (14%) patients. Subsequently, the irrigation flow rate was increased to 20 mL/min in the following 137 patients, resulting in the occurrence of 41 steam pops including one case of tamponade in a total of 30 (22%) patients. The maximal power was significantly higher in RF applications associated with a pop than those that did not. In only 12 (20%) steam pops, a significant impedance change occurred immediately before pop occurrence (4 [7%] impedance rise >10 ohm, 8 [13%] impedance drop >15 ohm).Conclusions:
The TC-SF catheter does not provide sufficient feedback from the ablated tissue to prevent steam popping.