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Open Access Highly Accessed Case report

Bilateral occipital lobe infarction with altitudinal field loss following radiofrequency cardiac catheter ablation

Susie T Luu1, Andrew W Lee2 and Celia S Chen3*

Author Affiliations

1 South Australian Institute of Ophthalmology, Discipline of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Adelaide and Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, Australia

2 Flinders Comprehensive Stroke Centre Medical Centre and Flinders University, Bedford Pk, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

3 Department of Ophthalmology, Flinders Medical Centre and Flinders University, Bedford Pk, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2010, 10:14  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-10-14

Published: 17 March 2010



Bilateral stroke following radiofrequency catheter ablation is an unusual complication and may result in bilateral altitudinal visual field defects. Bilateral altitudinal visual field defects usually result from prechiasmal pathology causing damage to both retinas or optic nerves and rarely from bilateral symmetric damage to the post chiasmal visual pathways.

Case presentation

A 48-year-old man complained of visual disturbance on wakening following radiofrequency catheter ablation. The patient had a CHADS score of 1 pre-operatively and no complications were noted intra-operatively. Examination revealed a bilateral superior altitudinal defect and MRI of the brain showed multifocal areas of infarction predominantly involving the occipital lobes which correlated to with the visual deficits.


While the risk of thromboembolism and perioperative stroke during radiofrequency catheter ablation is small, it is not insignificant.