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My patient taking a novel oral anticoagulant needs surgery, device implantation, or ablation



Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a highly prevalent chronic condition and a growing number of patients are on chronic anticoagulation therapy with novel oral anticoagulant (NOAC) agents: dabigatran, rivaroxaban, and apixaban. Many of these patients are expected to require invasive procedures. There is no clear consensus regarding the peri-procedural management of patients using NOACs, as to how to minimize both bleeding risk and thromboembolism risk. This review of the current available literature is designed to help formulate peri-procedural anticoagulation strategies for patients with AF taking NOACs who are being considered for catheter ablation, device implant, or other surgery.


To help frame the discussion, we offer 3 case vignettes that we will revisit to at the end of the review of the existing literature.



Case 1: A 62 year-old female with hypertension, diabetes, and symptomatic paroxysmal AF who is prescribed dabigatran for thromboembolism prevention. She has failed attempts at maintaining sinus rhythm with antiarrhythmic drugs. She is now being considered for catheter ablation of AF.


Case 2: A 76 year-old male with hypertension, diabetes, prior stroke, and ischemic cardiomyopathy who has persistent drug-refractory AF. He is maintained on chronic anticoagulation with dabigatran for thromboembolism prevention. He has an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) which requires a generator change.


Case 3: A 58 year-old male with hypertension and paroxysmal AF who takes rivaroxaban for thromboembolic prophylaxis and is being considered for a knee replacement surgery.

Credits: Siva Krothapalli; Prashant Bhave

Biosense Webster
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Introduction to AFib
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