Aims: To assess safety, feasibility and short term outcome of pulmonary vein (PV) isolation in paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF) with a cryoballoon.
Methods: We consecutively treated 57 patients with a double lumen 23 or 28 mm cryoballoon. The acute results, complications and follow-up over the first three months were analysed, using a comprehensive and intensive follow-up period.
Results: During 57 procedures, 185 of 220 targeted PV's were successfully isolated using the cryoballoon (84%) (balloon group, 33 patients). In 33 veins (15%) an additional segmental isolation (hybrid group, 24 patients) was necessary with a standard cryocatheter to achieve isolation. The average procedure times were respectively 211 +/- 108 and 261 +/- 83 minutes (NS), the average fluoroscopy times 52 +/- 36 and 66 +/- 33 minutes (NS). The number of balloon applications did not differ between both groups: respectively a median 9 (4-18) and 10 (5-17) (NS). We observed four phrenic nerve paralysis after ablation of the right superior PV: two resolved immediately after cessation of the cryoenergy, one recovered after 3 months, one persisted up to 6 months. A daily transtelephonic rhythm recording showed a significant drop in mean AF burden from 24% to 10%, 8% and 5% during the three consecutive months of follow-up (p < 0.01 versus baseline). No differences were observed between the treatment groups. 34 patients (60%) were completely free from AF after a single procedure.
Conclusions: Balloon cryoablation of the pulmonary veins with additional segmental isolation if necessary, is a good approach for patients presenting with paroxysmal AF, showing a significant reduction in AF burden after a single procedure. The major complication seems to be phrenic nerve paralysis after ablation of the right superior PV, but this is potentially reversible over several months.