Incidence and predictors of periprocedural cerebrovascular accident in patients undergoing catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation

Daniel Scherr, Kavita Sharma, Darshan Dalal, David Spragg, Karuna Chilukuri, Alan Cheng, Jun Dong, Charles A. Henrikson, Saman Nazarian, Ronald D. Berger, Hugh Calkins, Joseph E. Marine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Periprocedural CVA in AF Ablation. Background: Cerebrovascular accident (CVA) is a serious complication of catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation (AF). The incidence and clinical predictors of periprocedural CVA in patients undergoing AF ablation are not fully understood. Methods: This study included 721 cases (age 57 ± 11 years; 23% female; 345 persistent AF) in 579 consecutive patients referred for AF ablation. Periprocedural CVA was defined as onset of a new neurologic deficit that occurred anytime between the start of the procedure and 30 days after the AF ablation, and was confirmed by a neurologist. Cranial imaging with CT and/or MRI was performed in each case. Patients were anticoagulated with warfarin for at least 4 weeks pre- and immediately postprocedure and were bridged with enoxaparin. Transesophageal echocardiography was performed within 24 hours prior to ablation in all cases. Results: Periprocedural CVA occurred in 10 of 721 cases (1.4%). The risk of periprocedural CVA did not vary significantly during the course of the study. Among these 10 patients (age 62 ± 11 years; 1 female; 5 persistent AF), 6 manifested neurological deficits within 24 hours, 3 after 24-48 hours, and 1 patient had a CVA 6 days following AF ablation despite a therapeutic INR level. All CVAs were ischemic. Five patients had residual deficits after 30 days. Four of 43 patients (9.3%) with a prior history of CVA had periprocedural CVA. Periprocedural CVA occurred in 0.3%, 1.0%, and 4.7% of patients with CHADS 2 scores of 0, 1, and ≥ 2 (P < 0.001). In 2 separate multivariate analyses, a CHADS2 score ≥ 2 (OR 7.1, P = 0.02) and history of CVA (OR 9.5, P < 0.01) remained independent predictors of periprocedural CVA. Conclusions: Despite periprocedural anticoagulation and transesophageal echocardiography, we found a 1.4% incidence of periprocedural CVA in AF ablation patients. A CHADS2 score ≥ 2 and a history of CVA are independent predictors of CVA after AF ablation. The CVA risk is low in patients with CHADS2 score of 0. (J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol, Vol. 20, pp. 1357-1363, December 2009)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1357-1363
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of cardiovascular electrophysiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Ablation
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Cerebrovascular accident
  • Complication
  • Embolism
  • Warfarin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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