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Heart Rhythm. 2010 Jan;7(1):81-7. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2009.09.022. Epub 2009 Sep 17.

Intrapericardial balloon placement for prevention of collateral injury during catheter ablation of the left atrium in a porcine model.

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David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA.



Catheter ablation of the left atrium (LA) is associated with potential collateral injury to surrounding structures, especially the esophagus and the right phrenic nerve (PN).


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and feasibility of intrapericardial balloon placement (IPBP) for the protection of collateral structures adjacent to the LA.


Electroanatomic mapping was performed in porcine hearts using a transseptal endocardial approach in eight swine weighing 40-50 kg. An intrapericardial balloon was inflated in the oblique sinus, via percutaneous epicardial access, to displace the esophagus. Similarly, with the balloon positioned in the transverse sinus, IPBP was used to displace the right PN. Esophageal temperature was monitored while endocardial radiofrequency (RF) energy was delivered to the distal inferior PV.


In all cases, balloon placement was successful with no significant effects on hemodynamic function. Balloon inflation increased the distance between the esophagus and posterior LA by 12.3 +/- 4.0 mm. IPBP significantly attenuated increases in luminal esophageal temperature during endocardial RF application (6.1 +/- 2.4 degrees C vs. 1.2 +/- 1.1 degrees C; P<.0001). High-output endocardial pacing from the right superior pulmonary vein ostium stimulated PN activity. After displacement of the right PN with IPBP, PN capture was abolished in 30 (91%) of 33 sites.


These findings demonstrate that in an animal model, IPBP is feasible in the setting of catheter ablation procedures and has the potential to decrease the risk of collateral damage to the esophagus and PN during LA ablation.

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