Pulmonary vein isolation is the cornerstone of atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation. Radiofrequency (RF) represents a standard of care for pulmonary vein isolation, whereas cryoballoon (CB) ablation has emerged as a valid alternative. The aim of our meta-analysis was to explore the efficacy and safety of CB compared with RF as first ablation procedure for AF. We searched the literature for studies that investigated this issue. The primary efficacy outcome was AF recurrence. The safety outcomes were: pericardial effusion, cardiac tamponade, phrenic nerve palsy, vascular complications, and major bleedings. Fourteen randomized controlled studies and 34 observational studies were included in the analysis. A total of 7,951 patients underwent CB ablation, whereas 9,641 received RF ablation. Mean follow-up was 14 ± 7 months. Overall, CB reduced the incidence of AF recurrence compared with RF ablation (relative risk [RR] 0.86; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.78 to 0.94; p = 0.001), and this result was consistent across different study design and AF type. CB had a significantly higher rate of phrenic nerve palsy, whereas it was related to a lower incidence of pericardial effusion, cardiac tamponade (RR 0.58; 95% CI 0.38 to 0.88; p = 0.011) and vascular complications (RR 0.61; 95% CI 0.48 to 0.77; p <0.001) compared with RF. There was no significant difference in major bleedings between the 2 strategies. CB ablation had a shorter procedural time compared with RF (mean difference −20.76 minutes; p <0.001). In conclusion, considered its efficacy/safety profile and short procedural time, CB ablation represents the preferable option for first AF ablation procedure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine