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Open Access Case report

Rescue pulmonary vein isolation for hemodynamically unstable atrial fibrillation storm in a patient with an acute extensive myocardial infarction

Itsuro Morishima*, Takahito Sone, Hideyuki Tsuboi and Hiroaki Mukawa

Author Affiliations

Department of Cardiology, Ogaki Municipal Hospital, 4 -86 Minaminokawa-cho, Ogaki, 503-0864, Japan

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2012, 12:110  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-12-110

Published: 26 November 2012



New-onset atrial fibrillation in patients hospitalized for an acute myocardial infarction often leads to hemodynamic deterioration and has serious adverse prognostic implications; mortality is particularly high in patients with congestive heart failure and/or a reduced left ventricular ejection fraction. The mechanism of atrial fibrillation in the context of an acute myocardial infarction has not been well characterized and an effective treatment other than optimal medical therapy and mechanical hemodynamic support are expected.

Case presentation

A 71 year-old male with an acute myocardial infarction due to an occlusion of the left main coronary artery was treated with percutaneous coronary intervention. He had developed severe congestive heart failure with a left ventricular ejection fraction of 34%. The systemic circulation was maintained with an intraaortic balloon pump, continuous hemodiafiltration, and mechanical ventilation until atrial fibrillation occurred on day 3 which immediately led to cardiogenic shock. Because atrial fibrillation was refractory to intravenous amiodarone, beta-blockers, and a total of 15 electrical cardioversions, the patient underwent emergent radiofrequency catheter ablation on day 4. Soon after electrical cardioversion, ectopies from the right superior pulmonary vein triggered the initiation of atrial fibrillation. The right pulmonary veins were isolated during atrial fibrillation. Again, atrial fibrillation was electrically cardioverted, then, sinus rhythm was restored. Subsequently, the left pulmonary veins were isolated. The stabilization of the hemodynamics was successfully achieved with an increase in the blood pressure and urine volume. Hemodiafiltration and amiodarone were discontinued. The patient had been free from atrial fibrillation recurrence until he suddenly died due to ventricular fibrillation on day 9.


To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of pulmonary vein isolation for a rescue purpose applied in a patient with hemodymically unstable atrial fibrillation complicated with an acute myocardial infarction. This case demonstrates that ectopic activity in the pulmonary veins may be responsible for triggering atrial fibrillation in the critical setting of an acute myocardial infarction and thus pulmonary vein isolation could be an effective therapeutic option.

Atrial fibrillation; Acute myocardial infarction; Cardiogenic shock; Catheter ablation; Congestive heart failure; Pulmonary vein isolation