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Phrenic Nerve Injury After Catheter Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation

Author(s): Frederic Sacher | Pierre Jais | Kent Stephenson | Mark D O'Neill | Meleze Hocini | Jacques Clementy | William G Stevenson | Michel Haissaguerre

Journal: Indian Pacing and Electrophysiology Journal
ISSN 0972-6292

Volume: 7;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2007;
Original page

Keywords: Phrenic nerve injury | Catheter ablation | Atrial Fibrillation

Phrenic Nerve Injury (PNI) has been well studied by cardiac surgeons. More recently it has been recognized as a potential complication of catheter ablation with a prevalence of 0.11 to 0.48 % after atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation. This review will focus on PNI after AF ablation. Anatomical studies have shown a close relationship between the right phrenic nerve and it's proximity to the superior vena cava (SVC), and the antero-inferior part of the right superior pulmonary vein (RSPV). In addition, the proximity of the left phrenic nerve to the left atrial appendage has been well established. Independent of the type of ablation catheter (4mm, 8 mm, irrigated tip, balloon) or energy source used (radiofrequency (RF), ultrasound, cryothermia, and laser); the risk of PNI exists during ablation at the critical areas listed above. Although up to thirty-one percent of patients with PNI after AF ablation remain asymptomatic, dyspnea remain the cardinal symptom and is present in all symptomatic patients. Despite the theoretical risk for significant adverse effect on functional status and quality of life, short-term outcomes from published studies appear favorable with 81% of patients with PNI having a complete recovery after 7 ± 7 months.Conclusion: Existing studies have described PNI as an uncommon but avoidable complication in patients undergoing pulmonary vein isolation for AF. Prior to ablation at the SVC, antero-inferior RSPV ostium or the left atrial appendage, pacing should be performed before energy delivery. If phrenic nerve capture is documented, energy delivery should be avoided at this site. Electrophysiologist's vigilance as well as pacing prior to ablation at high risk sites in close proximity to the phrenic nerve are the currently available tools to avoid the complication of PNI.
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