Clinical presentation, investigation, and management of pulmonary vein stenosis complicating ablation for atrial fibrillation

Douglas L. Packer, Paul Keelan, Thomas M. Munger, Jerome F. Breen, Sam Asirvatham, Laura A. Peterson, Kristi H. Monahan, Mary F. Hauser, K. Chandrasekaran, Lawrence J. Sinak, David R. Holmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

221 Scopus citations


Background - Although segmental or circumferential ablation is effective in eliminating pulmonary vein (PV)-mediated atrial fibrillation (AF), this procedure may be complicated by the occurrence of PV stenosis. Methods and Results - To establish the clinical presentation, diagnostic manifestations, and interventional management of PV stenosis, 23 patients with stenosis of 34 veins complicating ablation of AF were evaluated. Each patient became symptomatic 103±100 days after undergoing ablation. In 8 veins, the ablation producing the PV stenosis was a repeated procedure for continued AF. Nineteen patients presented with dyspnea on exertion, 7 with dyspnea at rest, 9 with cough, and 6 with chest pain. On multirow spiral computed tomography examination, the narrowest lumen of the affected PVs measured 3±2 mm compared with 13±3 mm at baseline (P≤0.001). The relative perfusion of affected lung segments on isotope scans was reduced to 4±3% of total perfusion compared with 22±10% in unaffected segments. At percutaneous intervention, these veins showed 80±13% stenosis, with a mean gradient of 12±5 mm Hg. This was significantly reduced to a residual stenosis of 9±8% (P≤0.001) and a residual gradient of 3±4 mm Hg (P≤0.001). Twenty veins were treated with balloon dilatation alone, whereas 14 veins were stented with standard 10-mm-diameter bare-metal stents. Although the symptomatic response was nearly immediate and impressive, 14 patients developed in-stent or in-segment restenosis, requiring repeated interventions in 13. Conclusions - Percutaneous intervention produces rapid and dramatic symptom relief in patients with highly symptomatic PV stenosis after radiofrequency ablation for AF. Nevertheless, alternative treatment methods will be required to decrease recurrent in-stent or in-segment restenosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)546-554
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 8 2005


  • Ablation, catheter
  • Fibrillation, atrial
  • Pulmonary heart disease
  • Stenosis
  • Stents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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