Low risk of major complications associated with pulmonary vein antral isolation for atrial fibrillation: Results of 500 consecutive ablation procedures in patients with low prevalence of structural heart disease from a single center

Geoffrey Lee, Paul B. Sparks, Joseph B. Morton, Peter M Kistler, Jitendra K. Vohra, Caroline Medi, Raphael Rosso, Andrew Teh, Karen Halloran, Jonathan M. Kalman

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Complications Associated With Pulmonary Vein Antral Isolation for Atrial Fibrillation. Objectives: To report the major complication rate associated with pulmonary vein antral isolation (PVAI) in a consecutive series of 500 patients from a single center. Background: Catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF) is an established procedure for refractory AF. However, the risk of major complications has been reported to range from 3.9% to 4.5% and continues to represent a cause for concern. We hypothesized that these studies may have overestimated the rate of major complications associated with PVAI in patients with a low prevalence of structural heart disease (SHD). Methods: Data were prospectively collected from 500 consecutive AF ablation procedures on 424 patients (mean age 55 ± 11 years, 79% men, paroxysmal AF-80% and persistent AF-20%, CHADS2 scores of 0, 1, 2, 3 present in 64%, 28%, 7%, 1%, respectively), performed between July 2006 and September 2009. All procedures were performed under general anesthesia with intraoperative transesophageal echo. PVAI was performed using a nonfluoroscopic mapping system with an endpoint of PV isolation. Adjunctive left atrial ablation was performed in 21% of patients only. Major complications were defined from a compilation of those reported in 5 prior studies reporting complications. Results: In 500 procedures, there were no instances of death, stroke/TIA, cardiac tamponade, atrioesophageal fistula, or PV stenosis. Major complications occurred in 4 procedures (0.8%): esophageal hematoma (TEE probe)-2; pharyngeal trauma-1; and retroperitoneal hematoma-1. Conclusions: AF ablation can be performed safely in young patients without structural heart disease with a low risk (<1%) of major complications when using a strategy of PVAI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-168
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • atrial fibrillation
  • catheter ablation
  • complication
  • esophageal trauma
  • pulmonary vein

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