Institutional Variation in 30-Day Complications Following Catheter Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation

Linh Ngo, Anna Ali, Anand Ganesan, Richard Woodman, Harlan M. Krumholz, Robert Adams, Isuru Ranasinghe

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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Background Complications are a measure of procedural quality, yet variation in complication rates following catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation (AF) among hospitals has not been systematically examined. We examined institutional variation in the risk-standardized 30-day complication rates (RSCRs) following AF ablation which may suggest variation in care quality. Methods and Results This cohort study included all patients >18 years old undergoing AF ablations from 2012 to 2017 in Australia and New Zealand. The primary outcome was procedure-related complications occurring during the hospital stay and within 30 days of hospital discharge. We estimated the hospital-specific risk-standardized complication rates using a hierarchical generalized linear model. A total of 25 237 patients (mean age, 62.5±11.4 years; 30.2% women; median length of stay 1 day [interquartile range, 1-2 days]) were included. Overall, a complication occurred in 1400 (5.55%) patients (4.34% in hospital, 1.46% following discharge, and 0.25% experienced both). Bleeding (3.31%), pericardial effusion (0.74%), and infection (0.44%) were the most common complications while stroke/transient ischemic attack (0.24%), cardiorespiratory failure and shock (0.19%), and death (0.08%) occurred less frequently. Among 46 hospitals that performed ≥25 ablations during the study period, the crude complication rate varied from 0.00% to 21.43% (median, 5.74%). After adjustment for differences in patient and procedural characteristics, the median risk-standardized complication rate was 5.50% (range, 2.89%-10.31%), with 10 hospitals being significantly different from the national average. Conclusions Procedure-related complications occur in 5.55% of patients undergoing AF ablations, although the risk of complications varies 3-fold among hospitals, which suggests potential disparities in care quality and the need for efforts to standardize AF ablation practices among hospitals.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere022009
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2022


  • atrial fibrillation
  • catheter ablation
  • complication
  • institutional variation


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