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Percutaneous pulmonary vein isolation for treatment of atrial fibrillation

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Abstract Background: 

Transvenous catheter ablation for the treatment of atrial fibrillation is an evolving technique. Aim: 

The purpose of this study was to identify subgroups of patients most likely to benefit from pulmonary vein electrical isolation. Methods: 

Patients with symptomatic atrial fibrillation resistant to pharmacological therapy were studied. Mapping-guided segmental application of radio­frequency energy was used to electrically isolate the pulmonary veins in 74 patients. Ischaemic or dilated cardiomyopathy was present in 34% of patients. Atrial fibrillation had been present for a mean time (± standard deviation) of 6.6 ± 6.1 years. It was paroxysmal in 53 patients (72%). Results: 

The mean number of procedures was 1.6/patient. After 6 ± 6 months, 73% of patients (54/74) were in sinus rhythm. Thirteen of those in sinus rhythm were using anti-arrhythmic medications (25%). Recurrence of atrial fibrillation soon after pulmonary vein isolation occurred in 50%. Patients with persistent/permanent atrial fibrillation were less likely to be in sinus rhythm at follow up (11/21 (52%) vs 43/53 (81%); P = 0.01). However, the rate of early recurrence was similar in the intermittent and the persistent/permanent groups (26/53 (49%) vs 11/21(52%), respectively; P-value not significant). Patients with persistent atrial fibrillation were more likely to experience a recurrence of atrial fibril­lation (89%; P = 0.04). No other baseline factors predicted procedural success. Cardiac tamponade occurred in two patients and moderate pulmonary vein stenosis (>50% diameter narrowing) occurred in three patients. Conclusions: 

Pulmonary vein isolation is an effective curative treatment for a broad group of patients with atrial fibrillation. However, the procedure is only suitable for patients with problematic atrial fibrillation resistant to other therapies because of the small risk of serious complications. (Intern Med J 2004; 34: 453−457)
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Keywords: atrial fibrillation; catheter ablation; pulmonary vein; pulmonary vein ­isolation; ­radiofrequency

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Cardiology, Westmead Hospital and Westmead Private Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Publication date: 2004-08-01

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