General anesthesia during atrial fibrillation ablation: Standardized protocol and experience


Advocate Christ Medical Center


BACKGROUND: Most atrial fibrillation (AF) ablations are performed with general anesthesia (GA). The ideal GA protocol is unknown, but it affects ablation outcomes and laboratory utilization. We sought to report a GA protocol used at a high-volume center, with special consideration on efficiency and optimization of mapping and ablation conditions.

METHODS: Our protocol consists of propofol as sole anesthetic agent and analgesia with Fentanyl. IV fluids are minimized. After transseptal access, the right phrenic nerve is tagged, rocuronium is given, and redosing avoided. Ventilation is modulated to optimize mapping and ablation. After ablation, isoproterenol is infused for 20 min. After 10 min, propofol is gradually decreased and ventilation set to SIMV 8 breaths/min to promote spontaneous breathing, and then switched to pressure support and propofol stopped. Paralysis is reversed and furosemide given. Patient is extubated once meeting standard criteria.

RESULTS: A total of 1286 patients underwent AF ablation from January 2017 to December 2018 using the protocol. Mean age was 66 years (41% paroxysmal AF, CHADS2Vasc 2.6). Total procedure time was 86 min. Median time to extubation was 9 min (first and third quartile 6-16) after procedure completed, with total anesthesia time of 116 min. On average 370 mL of fluids were given by anesthesia. Only one patient who had heart failure required reintubation with no other anesthesia-related complications seen.

CONCLUSION: Our GA protocol was specifically designed for AF ablation. It was safe and led to efficient recovery and extubation times. It maximizes laboratory utilization time without compromising safety.

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