INTRODUCTION: Pulmonary vein (PV) isolation by catheter ablation is an increasingly used strategy to treat atrial fibrillation (AF). Complication rates from AF ablation reported in different case series vary widely. We conducted a retrospective analysis of 641 consecutive ablation procedures to assess complication rates, temporal trends, and clinical predictors of adverse outcomes., METHODS: All patients (n = 517) undergoing catheter ablation for AF at Johns Hopkins Hospital between February, 2001 and June, 2007 were prospectively enrolled in a database. Data from 641 consecutive procedures were analyzed and complications considered if they occurred within 30 days of ablation. Major complications were defined as those that required intervention, resulted in long-term disability, or prolonged hospitalization., RESULTS: Thirty-two major complications occurred in 641 procedures (5%). Among the patients with major complications, seven had cerebrovascular accident (CVA), eight had tamponade, one had PV occlusion with hemoptysis, and 11 had vascular injury requiring surgical repair and/or transfusion. No periprocedural deaths occurred, and no instances of esophageal injury were seen. Complication rates were higher during the first 100 cases (9.0%) than during the subsequent 541 (4.3%). Major adverse clinical events were associated with age > 70 years (P = 0.007; odds ratio 3.7, 95% confidence interval 1.4-9.6) and female gender (P = 0.014; odds ratio 3.0, 95% confidence interval 1.3-7.2). No other clinical or procedural predictors of complication were identified., CONCLUSIONS: Complication rates from AF ablation remain significant, despite improved techniques and increased awareness of procedural risks. Both advanced age and female gender predict major adverse events, suggesting careful consideration of the risk/benefit profile in these patients prior to ablation.
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