Dabigatran versus warfarin anticoagulation before and after catheter ablation for the treatment of atrial fibrillation

David E. Haines, Michelle Mead-Salley, Miguel Salazar, Francis E. Marchlinski, Erica Zado, Hugh Calkins, Hirad Yarmohammadi, Koonlawee Nademanee, Montawatt Amnueypol, Allan C. Skanes, Pradyot Saklani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Systemic thromboembolism and bleeding remain the two most common and serious complications of catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation. A variety of periprocedure anticoagulation strategies have been proposed to mitigate these risks. Although operators are now routinely administering dabigatran for anticoagulation in this setting, its relative safety and effectiveness compared to warfarin are unknown. Methods and results: A total of 202 patients received dabigatran as part of their periprocedural anticoagulation regimen at the time of initial or redo catheter ablation for symptomatic atrial fibrillation. A comparison group of 202 patients treated with warfarin was randomly selected from patients undergoing atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation during the same time period. AF types were paroxysmal in 223 patients, persistent in 158 patients, and longstanding persistent in 13 patients. Mean age was 60.0 ± 10.5 years, 55 % had a history of hypertension, and mean CHADS-VASc score was 1.7 ± 1.3. "Continuous" warfarin or dabigatran was administered in 80 and 32 % of patients, respectively. Time to first dose of dabigatran post-procedure was 12.2 ± 10.3 h. Two dabigatran and no warfarin-treated patients had systemic thromboembolism (p = NS); five dabigatran and three warfarin-treated patients had bleeding complications (p = NS, combined endpoint p = 0.116). One dabigatran patient had severe pericardial bleeding (3 L blood loss). Conclusions: In a retrospective pilot trial comparing the risks of systemic thromboembolism or bleeding complications in patients treated with warfarin or dabigatran anticoagulation, the outcomes were similar. A prospective trial is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-239
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Interventional Cardiac Electrophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Anticoagulation
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Catheter ablation
  • Dabigatran
  • Warfarin


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