Acute Sinus Node Dysfunction after Atrial Ablation: Incidence, Risk Factors, and Management

Ammar M. Killu, Erin A. Fender, Abhishek J. Deshmukh, Thomas M. Munger, Philip Araoz, Peter A. Brady, Yong Mei Cha, Douglas L. Packer, Paul A. Friedman, Samuel J. Asirvatham, Peter A. Noseworthy, Siva K. Mulpuru

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Many patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) or atrial flutter (Aflutter) have concomitant sinus node dysfunction (SND). Ablation may result in injury to the sinus node complex or its blood supply resulting in sinus arrest and need for temporary pacing. We sought to characterize patients who develop acute SND (ASND) during/immediately after AF/Aflutter ablation. Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of AF/Aflutter ablation patients between January 1, 2010 and February 28, 2015 to characterize those who required temporary pacemaker (TPM) implantation due to ASND (sinus arrest, sinus bradycardia <40 beats/min, or junctional rhythm with hemodynamic compromise) following atrial ablation. Results: Of 2,151 patients, eight patients (<0.5%) with ASND manifesting as sinus arrest (n = 2), severe sinus bradycardia (n = 2), and junctional rhythm with hemodynamic compromise (n = 4) were identified (all male, age 66 ± 9.9 years, 4/8 [50%] persistent AF). AF ablation was performed in four, atypical Aflutter in one, and AF/Aflutter in three patients. The ablation set consisted of: pulmonary vein (PV) isolation (n = 6), roof line ablation (n = 6), mitral annulus-left inferior PV line ablation (n = 5), left atrial appendage-mitral annulus ablation (n = 1), cavotricuspid isthmus ablation (n = 5), and isolation or ablation near the superior vena cava (SVC, n = 4). Patients with peri-SVC ablation were more likely to develop ASND (P = 0.03). All patients received TPM; six received permanent pacemaker before discharge, performed 3.5 days postablation (range 2–6 days). At 3-month device interrogation, all patients were atrially paced >50%. Conclusion: ASND is a rare complication of atrial ablation. It may be more common when peri-SVC ablation is performed and may necessitate permanent pacemaker implantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1116-1125
Number of pages10
JournalPACE - Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • ablation
  • atrial fibrillation
  • pacemaker
  • sinus node dysfunction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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