Visually-guided balloon catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation: Experimental feasibility and first-in-human multicenter clinical outcome

Vivek Y. Reddy, Petr Neuzil, Sakis Themistoclakis, Stephan B. Danik, Aldo Bonso, Antonio Rossillo, Antonio Raviele, Robert Schweikert, Sabine Ernst, Karl Heinz Kuck, Andrea Natale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND-: Electric isolation of the pulmonary veins (PVs) can successfully treat patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. However, it remains technically challenging to identify the left atrial-PV junction and sequentially position the ablation catheter in a point-by-point contiguous fashion to isolate the PVs. In this study, a novel endoscopic ablation system was used to directly visualize and ablate tissue at the left atrial-PV junction with laser energy. METHODS AND RESULTS-: This study consisted of 2 phases: a short-term (n=9) and long-term (n=11) canine experimental validation phase and a multicenter clinical feasibility phase (n=30 paroxysmal atrial fibrillation patients). After transseptal puncture, the balloon-based endoscopic ablation system was advanced to each PV ostium, and arcs of laser energy (90° to 360°) were projected onto the target left atrial-PV junction. Electric PV isolation was defined with a circular multielectrode catheter. In the short-term preclinical experimental phase, 15 of 17 targeted PVs (88%) were successfully isolated. Pathological examination revealed well-demarcated circumferential lesions with minimal endothelial disruption. In the long-term experiments, 9 of 10 targeted veins (90%) remained persistently isolated (at 4 to 8 weeks). In the clinical phase, 105 of 116 PVs (91%) were successfully isolated. After a single procedure, the 12-month drug-free rate of freedom from atrial fibrillation was 60% (18 of 30 patients). There were no significant PV stenoses, but adverse events included 1 episode of cardiac tamponade, 1 stroke without residual defect, and 1 asymptomatic phrenic nerve palsy. CONCLUSION-: This study establishes the feasibility of a novel paradigm for AF ablation: direct visualization to guide catheter ablation of the left atrial-PV junction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-20
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 Jul 2009


  • Ablation
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Catheter ablation
  • Lasers
  • Pulmonary veins


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