Unusual complications of percutaneous epicardial access and epicardial mapping and ablation of cardiac arrhythmias

Jacob S. Koruth, Arash Aryana, Srinivas R. Dukkipati, Hui Nam Pak, Young Hoon Kim, Eduardo A. Sosa, Mauricio Scanavacca, Srijoy Mahapatra, Gorav Ailawadi, Vivek Y. Reddy, Andre D'Avila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


Background-Percutaneous epicardial access and mapping/ablation of cardiac arrhythmias are being increasingly performed. Although complications such as pericardial effusion are relatively common, other unusual complications may occur due to the complex anatomic architecture of the heart and surrounding tissues. In this report, we report a series of rare and unusual complications related to percutaneous epicardial procedures. Methods and Results-Between 2006 and 2011, 334 patients underwent attempts at percutaneous, subxiphoid access for epicardial mapping/ablation at 5 experienced centers. Seven selected complications are highlighted in this case series. Patient 1 had a 1-cm right ventricular pseudoaneurysm after several unsuccessful attempts at epicardial access. This was successfully managed conservatively. Patient 2 had intra-abdominal bleeding related to puncture of the left lobe of the liver during access that required surgical repair. Patient 3 had a subcapsular hepatic hematoma that was probably related to percutaneous access and was successfully managed conservatively. Patient 4 had severe pericardial bleeding followed by ventricular fibrillation, immediately after obtaining percutaneous epicardial access. A lacerated middle cardiac vein was repaired surgically. However, the patient ultimately died of complications. Patient 5 had a history of cardiothoracic surgery and developed a right ventricle-abdominal fistula after multiple attempts at percutaneous access. This was surgically repaired without major sequelae. Patient 6 had cardiac tamponade caused by a lacerated coronary sinus branch during epicardial catheter ablation and required surgical repair. Patient 7 had severe left coronary vasospasm and ventricular fibrillation during catheter manipulation in the pericardium. This complication was successfully managed with intracoronary nitrates. Conclusions-Though generally safe, percutaneous epicardial access and mapping/ablation can result in uncommon complications. Awareness of these rare complications may facilitate early detection and successful management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)882-888
Number of pages7
JournalCirculation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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