Management and outcomes of cardiac tamponade during atrial fibrillation ablation in the presence of therapeutic anticoagulation with warfarin

R Latchamsetty
S Gautam
D Bhakta
A Chugh
R M. John
L M. Epstein, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell
J M. Miller
G F. Michaud
H Oral
F Morady
K Jongnarangsin


Background: Cardiac tamponade (CT) is a possible complication of radiofrequency catheter ablation (RFCA) of atrial fibrillation (AF). Although the incidence of CT is not higher when RFCA is performed with a therapeutic international normalized ratio (INR), outcomes of CT are unclear. Objective: We compared outcomes among patients with and without a therapeutic INR who developed CT as a complication of RFCA of AF. Methods: The subjects of this retrospective study were 40 consecutive patients who developed CT during RFCA of AF at 3 centers. We divided the patients into 2 groups: RFCA performed with INR < 2 (group 1) and INR < 2 (group 2). There were 23 patients in group 1 and 17 patients in group 2. Results: Baseline clinical and procedure characteristics were not different between the 2 groups. Heparin was reversed by protamine in 83% and 94% of patients (P = .37), and warfarin was reversed by fresh frozen plasma or factor VIIa in 17% and 35% of patients (P = .27) in groups 1 and 2, respectively. All patients were successfully treated by percutaneous drainage, and none required surgical intervention. There were no significant differences in the amount of initial pericardial drainage (523 ± 349 ml vs. 409 ± 157 ml, P = .22) or the duration of drainage (P = .14) between the 2 groups. All patients survived to hospital discharge. Median length of hospital stay was 2 days longer in group 1 (P <.01). Conclusion: Cardiac tamponade is not more severe or difficult to manage in the presence of therapeutic anticoagulation with warfarin in patients undergoing RFCA of AF.