Incidence of Esophageal Thermal Injury Using a Safety Protocol During Atrial Fibrillation Ablation
Objective: Catheter ablation has been a common procedure used for the management of atrial fibrillation (AF). Atrioesophagel fistula (AEF) is one of the most feared complications of AF ablation. Although it is a rare complication, severe esophageal thermal injury must be avoided. It is important to describe a safe method of preventing esophageal injuries without increasing AF recurrence. Methods: A retrospective cohort study of consecutive patients who underwent radiofrequency AF catheter ablation during 1 year-period wa conducted. One hundred and four patients were enrolled divided in two groups: one with a maximum recorded esophageal temperature (ET) < 38 °C and other with a maximum recorded ET ≥ 38 °C. The primary endpoint was detection of endoscopic esophageal lesions after AF ablation and the secondary endpoint was AF recurrence according to the maximum ET reached during the procedure. Results: The maximum ET was on average 37.3 ± 1.0 °C. Only 4 (3.8%) patients had esophageal lesion diagnosed by upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. There were no cases of esophageal perforation. The AF recurrence rate was 9.6% during the follow-up (10 patients, 3 from the ET max < 38 °C group and 7 from the ET max ≥ 38 °C group; p = 0.181). The maximum ET was not associated with AF recurrence after catheter ablation (OR = 1.65, 95% CI = 0.84-3.24, p = 0.14). Conclusions: A low incidence of esophageal injury after AF ablation with the use of a specific esophageal protection protocol was found. There was no esophageal perforation. The AF recurrence rate was similar to that described in the literature.
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