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ISSN: 1734-1922
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Clinical research

Silent cerebral infarcts following pulmonary vein isolation with different atrial fibrillation ablation techniques – incidence and risk factors

Andrzej Glowniak
Adam Tarkowski
Marzena Janczarek
Andrzej Wysokinski

Online publish date: 2019/05/24
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Silent cerebral infarcts (SCIs) detected by diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance (DW-MRI) following atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation have been reported, with the incidence of 1–38%. We aimed to compare the incidence of SCIs following AF ablation with four different technologies and analyze the risk factors.

Material and methods
A total of 104 patients (mean age: 59.9 ±9.5 years, 68 males) with symptomatic AF, referred for ablation, were included in the study. The AF ablation was performed with irrigated radiofrequency point-by-point technique (RF group) in 24 patients, and with 3 different single-shot techniques: phased-RF (PVAC) in 46, second-generation cryoballoon (CB) in 24 and irrigated multipolar RF catheter (nMARQ) in 10 patients. In all patients DW-MRI was performed pre- and post-procedurally to evaluate the incidence of SCIs. Procedural parameters, complication rate and post-procedural SCI incidence were compared between the groups.

Procedure (167.1 vs. 110.5 vs. 106.0 vs. 141.5 min, p < 0.001), fluoroscopy (22.7 vs. 15.9 vs. 16.3 vs. 15.3 min, p = 0.048) and LA dwell (101.5 vs. 53.9 vs. 56.0 vs. 97.0 min, p < 0.001) times compared respectively between RF, PVAC, CB and nMARQ groups were significantly shorter with single-shot techniques. The number of new-onset SCIs was 4/24 (16.7%) in RF, 7/46 (15.2%) in PVAC, 1/24 (4.2%) in CB and 1/10 (10%) in the nMARQ group. Univariate analysis identified procedure duration (p = 0.02), lower LV ejection fraction (p = 0.03), persistent form of arrhythmia (p = 0.007) and intraprocedural cardioversion (p = 0.002) as risk factors of new-onset SCIs.

Silent cerebral infarcts can be detected following AF ablation regardless of the technology used. Prolonged procedure time, lower ejection fraction, persistent form of arrhythmia and intraprocedural cardioversion increase the risk of SCIs.


atrial fibrillation, cryoballoon, phased-radiofrequency ablation, pulmonary vein isolation, silent cerebral infarcts

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