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J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2012 Jun;23(6):583-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8167.2011.02268.x. Epub 2012 Mar 19.

Role of the vein of Marshall in atrial fibrillation recurrences after catheter ablation: therapeutic effect of ethanol infusion.

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Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center and Methodist Hospital Research Institute, The Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX, USA.


Vein of Marshall Ethanol in Recurrent AF.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) or flutter can recur after pulmonary vein (PV) antral isolation (PVAI). The vein of Marshall (VOM) has been linked to the genesis of AF. We hypothesized that the VOM may play a role in AF recurrences and that VOM ethanol infusion may have therapeutic value in this setting.


Sixty-one patients with recurrent AF or flutter after PVAI were studied. The VOM was successfully cannulated in 54; VOM and PV electrograms were recorded, and differential PV-VOM pacing was performed. VOM signals were present in all patients; however, VOM triggers of AF could not be demonstrated. VOM tachycardia was present in 1 patient. Left inferior (LIPV) and left superior (LSPV) reconnection was present in 32 and 30 patients, respectively. Differential pacing in VOM and LIPV showed VOM-mediated LIPV reconnection in 5/32 patients. In others, VOM and PV connected indirectly via left atrial tissues. Up to four 1 cc infusions of 98% ethanol were delivered in the VOM. Regardless of the reconnection pattern, ethanol infusion eliminated LIPV and LSPV reconnection in 23/32 and 13/30 patients, respectively. Ethanol terminated VOM and LIPV tachycardias in 2 patients. There were no acute procedural complications.


VOM signals are consistently present in recurrent AF. VOM may rarely play a role in PV reconnection. However, VOM ethanol infusion can be useful in patients with recurrent AF after PVAI, assisting in achieving redisconnection of reconnected left PVs.

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