Relationship Between Procedural Volume and Complication Rates for Catheter Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Aims: There are conflicting data as to the impact of procedural volume on outcomes with specific reference to the incidence of major complications after catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation. Questions regarding minimum volume requirements and whether these should be per centre or per operator remain unclear. Studies have reported divergent results. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies reporting the relationship between either operator or hospital atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation volumes and incidence of complications.

Methods and results: Databases were searched for studies describing the relationship between operator or hospital AF ablation volumes and incidence of complications which were published prior to 12 June 2020. Of 1593 articles identified, 14 (315 120 patients) were included in the meta-analysis. Almost two-thirds of the procedures were performed in low-volume centres. Both hospital volume of ≥50 and ≥100 procedures/year were associated with a significantly lower incidence of complications compared to <50/year (4.2% vs. 5.5%, OR = 0.58, 95% CI 0.50-0.66, P < 0.001) or <100/year (5.5% vs. 6.2%, OR = 0.62, 95% CI 0.53-0.73, P < 0.001), respectively. Hospitals performing ≥50 procedures/year demonstrated significantly lower mortality compared with those performing <50 procedures/year (0.16% vs. 0.55%, OR = 0.33, 95% CI 0.26-0.43, P < 0.001). A similar relationship existed between proceduralist volume of <50/year and incidence of complications [3.75% vs. 12.73%, P < 0.001; OR = 0.27 (0.23-0.32)].

Conclusion: There is an inverse relationship between both hospital and proceduralist AF ablation volume and the incidence of complications. Implementation of minimum hospital and operator AF ablation volume standards should be considered in the context of a broader strategy to identify AF ablation Centers of Excellence.

 Atrial fibrillation, Catheter ablationMeta-analysis, Complications, Hospital volume, Operator volume, Outcomes, Procedural volume