Date: 21 Jun 2012

Prevention of esophageal thermal injury during radiofrequency ablation for atrial fibrillation

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Pulmonary vein isolation using radiofrequency ablation is an effective therapy in patients with atrial fibrillation. However, the esophagus descends in close proximity to the posterior wall of the left atrium and renders this structure susceptible to thermal injury. Esophageal ulceration has been hypothesized to be a precursor to left atrial–esophageal fistula, a procedural complication associated with poor prognosis. In this review, we have analyzed and summarized the published data regarding esophageal thermal injury during catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation and strategies to minimize risk of this complication. While esophageal temperature monitoring can be useful, multiple factors such as patient characteristics and specific strategies for radiofrequency energy delivery also merit consideration.