Circulatory collapse during/post-pulmonary vein (PV) isolation by cryo-balloon ablation is a Cardiology emergency that has multiple potential causes and requires a methodical investigative approach. Some of the complications that can arise include cardiac tamponade, bleeding/vascular injury, anaphylaxis, Addisonian crisis, acute pulmonary embolism, acute PV stenosis, oesophageal injury, and vagal reaction.
Here, we present a case of a 76-year-old lady who developed profound circulatory collapse during an elective pulmonary vein isolation by cryo-balloon ablation for symptomatic paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF). Cardiac tamponade, bleeding/vascular injury, and other less common causes were excluded. She only responded transiently to fluid resuscitation and developed intermittent bradyarrhythmias and hypotension which responded to isoprenaline. She was discharged home at Day 3 post-AF ablation after remaining well and continued to do so at follow-up.
Circulatory collapse during/post-PV cryo-balloon ablation is a Cardiology emergency that has multiple potential causes. The ganglionate plexi form part of the cardiac intrinsic autonomic nervous system (ANS) and are located close to the left atrial-PV junctions. The presence of vagal response has been observed to be a marker of ANS modulation although its significance on the long-term outcome post-ablation has yet to be elucidated. The true cause of our patient’s profound circulatory collapse is uncertain but a vital learning point in this case is the systematic exclusion of common and potentially life-threatening complications following AF ablation. A persistent vagal reaction secondary to PV cryo-balloon ablation can usually be managed with supportive medical therapy as demonstrated in our case.