Complications of radiofrequency catheter ablation: a review

Can J Cardiol. 1994 Oct;10(8):835-9.


Radiofrequency catheter ablation has revolutionized the management of patients with supraventricular tachycardias. Although initial reports were very favourable, it is becoming apparent that radiofrequency catheter ablation may lead to some potentially serious complications. Complication rate for accessory pathway ablation ranges from 1.8 to 4% and the risk of atrioventricular (AV) block for 'AV nodal modification' ranges from 1.3 to 8%. It is likely that complications are underreported and the true incidence may be higher. Some of these complications are probably related to operator experience or the volume of ablations performed at the centre, but other complications, such as systemic embolism, may be sporadic and unrelated to experience or volume. Although radiofrequency catheter ablation has emerged as an excellent therapeutic tool, the potential complications and limitations should be recognized.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Catheter Ablation / adverse effects*
  • Catheter Ablation / methods
  • Electrophysiology
  • Heart Block / epidemiology
  • Heart Block / etiology*
  • Heart Injuries / epidemiology
  • Heart Injuries / etiology*
  • Heart Injuries / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intraoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Tachycardia, Atrioventricular Nodal Reentry / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome / surgery*