Pulmonary vein ablation for atrial fibrillation: the Christchurch, New Zealand experience

N Z Med J. 2011 Sep 23;124(1343):39-47.


Aims: To report the long-term results following percutaneous pulmonary vein ablation (PVA) for atrial fibrillation (AF) at Christchurch Hospital.

Methods: A retrospective observational audit review of outcomes. The sample population included all patients identified as having undergone percutaneous radiofrequency ablation of multiple pulmonary veins at Christchurch Hospital, from the first procedure performed on 29 September 2001 until 15 December 2009.

Results: A total of 187 patients underwent pulmonary vein ablation. The patient population was predominantly younger (mean age 51) and male (83%) with no important comorbidity. Following a single procedure only, the chance of remaining free of AF at 12 months was 0.74 for patients with paroxysmal AF (PAF) and 0.60 for patients with persistent AF (PsAF). 52 patients (28%) underwent a repeat procedure within 12 months of their index ablation owing to early recurrence of AF. 5-year survival free of clinical AF when analysed following these early repeat procedures, if required, was 0.74 and 0.56 for PAF and PsAF patients respectively. Complications occurred following 6% of procedures and were serious in 2.5%. New atrial flutter developed in 6% of patients.

Conclusions: PVA is an effective treatment for AF, with better outcomes in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. However, as it carries a significant risk, we recommend that its application be reserved for patients with highly symptomatic, medication-refractory disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / surgery*
  • Catheter Ablation / methods*
  • Comorbidity
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand
  • Pulmonary Veins / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Veins / surgery*
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Warfarin / therapeutic use


  • Anticoagulants
  • Warfarin