The Extent of Mechanical Esophageal Deviation to Avoid Esophageal Heating During Catheter Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation

Chandrasekar Palaniswamy, Jacob S. Koruth, Alexander J. Mittnacht, Marc A. Miller, Subbarao Choudry, Rahul Bhardwaj, Dinesh Sharma, Jonathan M. Willner, Sujata S. Balulad, Elizabeth Verghese, Georgios Syros, Anurag Singh, Srinivas R. Dukkipati, Vivek Y. Reddy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Objectives This study sought to determine the extent of lateral esophageal displacement required during mechanical esophageal deviation (MED) and to eliminate luminal esophageal temperature elevation (LETElev) during pulmonary vein (PV) isolation. Background MED is a conceptually attractive strategy of minimizing esophageal injury while allowing uninterrupted energy delivery along the posterior left atrium during PV isolation. Methods MED was performed using a malleable metal stylet within a plastic tube placed within the esophagus. Barium was instilled to characterize the trailing esophageal edge. For each MED attempt, the MEDEffective, defined as the distance from the trailing esophageal edge-to-ablation line, was correlated to occurrences of LETElev. Results In 114 consecutive patients/221 PV pairs undergoing MED (age 62.1 ± 11 years, 75% men, 62%/38% paroxysmal/persistent AF), esophageal stretching invariably occurred such that the esophageal edge trailed behind the plastic tube. MEDEffective distances of 0 mm to 10 mm, 10 mm to 15 mm, 15 mm to 20 mm or >20 mm were achieved in 60 (27.1%), 64 (29%), 48 (21.7%), and 49 (22.2%) attempts, respectively. Overall, LET elevation >38°C occurred in 81 of 221 (36.7%) PV pairs. The incidence of LETElev among the 4 groups was 73.3%, 35.9%, 25%, and 4.1%, respectively. MEDEffective distances were 9.1 ± 6.5 mm and 18 ± 7.6 mm in patients with and without LETElev, respectively (p < 0.0001). Three patients (2.6%) experienced clinically significant MED-related trauma, albeit only with a stiffer stylet. Conclusions Mechanical esophageal deviation >20 mm from the PV ablation line prevents significant esophageal heating during PV isolation, but this level of displacement was difficult to safely achieve with this off-the-shelf mechanical stylet approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1146-1154
Number of pages9
JournalJACC: Clinical Electrophysiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • esophageal deviation
  • esophageal protection
  • stylet


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