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A Journal on Heart and Vascular Diseases

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Angiology and Vascular Pathology
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Minerva Cardioangiologica 2011 April;59(2):171-86

language: English

Management of patients pre-, per- and postcatheter ablation procedures: how to minimize complications?

Altmann D., Hindricks G., Arya A., Piorkowski C., Gaspar T., Eitel C., Sommer P.

Heart Center, Department of Electrophysiology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany


Catheter ablation using radiofrequency energy has become an accepted and safe treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. Nevertheless, it is important to determine the risk-to-benefit ratio of a specific procedure, especially when treating subjects with non-life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias, such as AV-nodal reentrant tachycardia or atrial fibrillation, and efforts have to be made to reduce the incidence of complications associated with these procedures, which are in the vast majority of cases not directly attributable to RF energy application but rather with obtaining peripheral vascular access or intracardiac catheter manipulation. Although complication rates in atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation have decreased with improvements of the ablation technique and a change of ablation concepts since the introduction of this technique, the risk of complication is still considerable and significantly higher compared to ablation procedures of other supraventricular tachycardia, including potentially life-threatening events. The higher incidence of AF ablation associated complications may be explained by the complex technique, the need for trans-septal puncture or extensive manipulation in the thin walled left atrium, as well as possible adverse effects of sedation. Even “new” complications associated with AF catheter ablation were identified, such as pulmonary vein stenosis or atrio-esophageal fistula formation. This article will review general risks and complications that can occur during RF catheter ablation procedures and conscious sedation with a particular attention on AF ablation procedures.

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