Objectives This study assessed trends in transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) use, rate of left atrial appendage (LAA) thrombus detection, and incidence of periprocedural cerebrovascular accident (CVA) since transitioning to a strategy of uninterrupted warfarin or briefly interrupted novel oral anticoagulant therapy in 2010. Background TEE is routinely performed before ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF) to ensure absence of LAA thrombus. Methods Patients with AF ablation presenting between January 2010 and September 2015 at Johns Hopkins Hospital were enrolled in an AF ablation registry; TEE and ablation outcomes were retrospectively analyzed. Presence of LAA thrombus, dense spontaneous echo contrast (SEC), or patent foramen ovale (PFO) were recorded. CVA incidence from procedure onset to 30 days post-procedure was evaluated using electronic medical record review. Results Pre-procedure TEE was performed in 646 of 1,224 AF ablation cases (52.8%). There was a decline in pre-procedure TEE use from 86% in 2010 to 42% in 2015 (p < 0.001). CVA incidence was 4/1,224 (0.33%) cases, and did not change during the study period. TEE findings included LAA thrombus (n = 6; 0.93%), PFO (n = 23; 3.6%), and dense spontaneous echo contrast (n = 99; 15.3%). Both SEC and LAA thrombus were associated with persistent AF, higher CHA2DS2VASC score, increased LA size, reduced LAA flow velocity, and decreased left ventricular ejection fraction. PFO was not associated with prior AF ablation, and SEC was not associated with increased CVA incidence. Conclusions CVA is a rare complication of AF ablation in patients with minimally interrupted anticoagulation. Pre-ablation TEE may be reasonably avoided in patients without high-risk features.
- atrial fibrillation
- transesophageal echocardiography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)