Jennifer E. Cummings, MD; Robert A. Schweikert, MD; Walid I. Saliba, MD; J. David Burkhardt, MD; Fethi Kilikaslan, MD; Eduardo Saad, MD; Andrea Natale, MD
Grant Support: None.
Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: Consultancies: J.D. Burkhardt (Biosense Webster); Honoraria: R.A. Schweikert (Siemens Acuson); Grants received: A. Natale (Siemens, Biosense Webster).
Requests for Single Reprints: Jennifer E. Cummings, MD, Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Section of Electrophysiology and Pacing, 9500 Euclid Avenue Desk F-15, Cleveland, OH 44195.
Current Author Addresses: Drs. Cummings, Schweikert, Saliba, Burkhardt, Kilikaslan, and Natale: Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Section of Electrophysiology and Pacing, 9500 Euclid Avenue Desk F-15, Cleveland, OH 44195.
Dr. Saad: Hospital Pró-Cardíaco, 2607/303 Avenida Borges de Medeiros, 22470-001 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Author Contributions: Conception and design: J.E. Cummings, F. Kilikaslan, E. Saad, A. Natale.
Analysis and interpretation of the data: J.E. Cummings, R.A. Schweikert, A. Natale.
Drafting of the article: J.E. Cummings, R.A. Schweikert, J.D. Burkhardt, F. Kilikaslan, A. Natale.
Critical revision of the article for important intellectual content: J.E. Cummings, R.A. Schweikert, W.I. Saliba, J.D. Burkhardt, E. Saad, A. Natale.
Final approval of the article: J.E. Cummings, R.A. Schweikert, W.I. Saliba, J.D. Burkhardt, E. Saad, A. Natale.
Provision of study materials or patients: E. Saad.
Ablation of atrial fibrillation is generally considered safe and effective. However, atrial–esophageal fistulas have recently been reported as a rare but fatal complication.
To describe 9 patients with atrial–esophageal fistulas after ablation for atrial fibrillation.
Retrospective case series.
Institutions where cardiologists performed atrial fibrillation ablation procedures.
9 patients with atrial–esophageal fistulas after atrial fibrillation ablation.
Demographic characteristics, mortality, presenting signs and symptoms, and days to presentation.
Patients presented a mean of 12.3 days (range, 10 to 16 days) after their procedures. Nonspecific symptoms included fever, leukocytosis, and neurologic abnormalities. All patients died. Only 4 patients received correct diagnoses before death, although all patients presented to a physician. In 3 patients, surgical repair was attempted.
Few physicians reported cases, and only approximate numbers of procedures performed by the physicians are known. Thus, the authors could not estimate the incidence of atrial–esophageal fistulas after ablation.
Formation of atrial–esophageal fistulas is a rare but potentially devastating complication of atrial fibrillation ablation. This disorder may have an indolent presentation and may mimic other disease states, such as stroke or sepsis.
Cummings JE, Schweikert RA, Saliba WI, Burkhardt JD, Kilikaslan F, Saad E, et al. Brief Communication: Atrial–Esophageal Fistulas after Radiofrequency Ablation. Ann Intern Med. ;144:572–574. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-144-8-200604180-00007
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2006;144(8):572-574.
Esophageal Disorders, Gastroenterology/Hepatology.
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