Atrioesophageal Fistula Rates Before and After Adoption of Active Esophageal Cooling During Atrial Fibrillation Ablation

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JACC. Clinical electrophysiology


BACKGROUND: Active esophageal cooling reduces the incidence of endoscopically identified severe esophageal lesions during radiofrequency (RF) catheter ablation of the left atrium for the treatment of atrial fibrillation. A formal analysis of the atrioesophageal fistula (AEF) rate with active esophageal cooling has not previously been performed. OBJECTIVES: The authors aimed to compare AEF rates before and after the adoption of active esophageal cooling. METHODS: This institutional review board (IRB)-approved study was a prospective analysis of retrospective data, designed before collecting and analyzing the real-world data. The number of AEFs occurring in equivalent time frames before and after adoption of cooling using a dedicated esophageal cooling device (ensoETM, Attune Medical) were quantified across 25 prespecified hospital systems. AEF rates were then compared using generalized estimating equations robust to cluster correlation. RESULTS: A total of 14,224 patients received active esophageal cooling during RF ablation across the 25 hospital systems, which included a total of 30 separate hospitals. In the time frames before adoption of active cooling, a total of 10,962 patients received primarily luminal esophageal temperature (LET) monitoring during their RF ablations. In the preadoption cohort, a total of 16 AEFs occurred, for an AEF rate of 0.146%, in line with other published estimates for procedures using LET monitoring. In the postadoption cohort, no AEFs were found in the prespecified sites, yielding an AEF rate of 0% (P < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Adoption of active esophageal cooling during RF ablation of the left atrium for the treatment of atrial fibrillation was associated with a significant reduction in AEF rate.