Pathological effects of extensive radiofrequency energy applications in the pulmonary veins in dogs

Academic Article


  • Introduction - The long-term complications of catheter ablation within the pulmonary veins are unknown. The development of pulmonary vein stenosis has recently been described after catheter ablation to treat either chronic or paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. The purpose of this study was to examine the pathological and hemodynamic effects of radiofrequency (RF) energy application within the pulmonary veins. Methods and Results - Right heart and transseptal catheterization were performed in 9 anesthetized mongrel dogs. The pulmonary vein ostia were cannulated and pulmonary venous pressure was measured before RF energy application in up to 4 separate pulmonary veins. Animals were euthanized at intervals of 2 to 4 weeks (n=3), 6 to 8 weeks (n=3), or 10 to 14 weeks (n=3) after ablation. Repeat catheterization before euthanasia demonstrated statistically significant differences in pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, cardiac output, pulmonary vascular resistance, and systemic vascular resistance (P<0.05) compared with the baseline. Luminal narrowing was observed in 22 of 33 pulmonary veins to which RF energy was applied. Of these, 7 were totally occluded, 7 had severe stenosis, and 8 were only minimally narrowed. Histological examination revealed intimal proliferation with organizing thrombus, necrotic myocardium in various stages of collagen replacement, endovascular contraction, and a proliferation of elastic lamina. Conclusions - Applications of RF current within the pulmonary veins may result in pulmonary vein narrowing or complete occlusion. These observations should be considered in treatment of arrhythmias originating within the pulmonary veins.
  • Published In

  • Circulation  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Taylor GW; Kay GN; Zheng X; Bishop S; Ideker RE
  • Start Page

  • 1736
  • End Page

  • 1742
  • Volume

  • 101
  • Issue

  • 14