BACKGROUND-: Radiofrequency left atrial catheter ablation has become a routine procedure for treatment of atrial fibrillation. The aim of this study was to assess with preprocedural and postprocedural cerebral magnetic resonance imaging the thromboembolic risk, either silent or clinically manifest, in the context of atrial fibrillation ablation. The secondary end point was the identification of clinical or procedural parameters that correlate with cerebral embolism. METHODS AND RESULTS-: A total of 232 consecutive patients with paroxysmal or persistent atrial fibrillation who were candidates for radiofrequency left atrial catheter ablation were included in the study. Pulmonary vein isolation or pulmonary vein isolation plus linear lesions plus atrial defragmentation with the use of irrigated-tip ablation catheters was performed. All of the patients underwent preprocedural and postablation cerebral magnetic resonance imaging. A periprocedural symptomatic cerebrovascular accident occurred in 1 patient (0.4%). Postprocedural cerebral magnetic resonance imaging was positive for new embolic lesions in 33 patients (14%). No clinical parameters such as age, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, previous history of stroke, type of atrial fibrillation, and preablation antithrombotic treatment showed significant correlation with ischemic cerebral embolism. Procedural parameters such as activated clotting time value and, in particular, electric or pharmacological cardioversion to sinus rhythm correlated with an increased incidence of cerebral embolism. Cardioversion was also associated with an increased risk of 2.75 (95% confidence interval, 1.29 to 5.89; P=0.009). CONCLUSIONS-: Radiofrequency left atrial catheter ablation carries a low risk of symptomatic cerebral ischemia but is associated with a substantial risk of silent cerebral ischemia detected on magnetic resonance imaging. Independent risk factors for cerebral thromboembolism are the level of activated clotting time and, in particular, the electric or pharmacological cardioversion to sinus rhythm during the procedure.
- magnetic resonance imaging
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine