Assessment of pulmonary vein anatomic variability by magnetic resonance imaging: Implications for catheter ablation techniques for atrial fibrillation

Moussa Mansour, Godtfred Holmvang, David Sosnovik, Raymond Migrino, Suhny Abbara, Jeremy Ruskin, David Keane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


Introduction: Pulmonary vein (PV) isolation for atrial fibrillation (AF) currently is performed using either an ostial or an extra-ostial approach. The objective of this study was to analyze by three-dimensional (3D) magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) the anatomy of the PVs in order to detect structural variability that would impact the choice of ablation approach. Methods and Results: Three-dimensional MRA was performed in 105 patients undergoing PV isolation. The ostial diameter, branching pattern, and PV angulation were analyzed. Fifty-nine (56%) patients had the typical pattern of 4 PVs with 4 separate ostia, 30 (29%) patients had an additional PV, and 18 (17%) patients had a left common PV trunk. In two patients, there were three right-sided veins and a common left-sided trunk, giving rise to four ostia: three on the right and one on the left. Two different populations of right middle PVs were noted: one where the additional vein projected anteriorly to drain the right middle lobe and one posterior to drain the superior portion of the right lower lobe. The average intrapatient variability in PV diameter was 7.9 ± 4.2 mm. The PV ostium was <10 mm in 26 (25%) patients and >25 mm in 15 (14%) patients. The first branch originated 6.7 ± 2.3 mm from the ostium. The left superior, right superior, right inferior, and left inferior PVs were found to enter the left atrium at the following angles: 32 ± 13°, 131 ± 11°, 206 ± 16°, and 329 ± 14°, respectively. Forty-nine patients (47%) had at least one funnel shaped PV. Conclusion: This largest PV imaging study to date demonstrates that MRA is a valuable tool that allows detection of marked intrapatient and interpatient anatomic variability of the PVs. These findings suggest that, at least in some patients, circumferential extra-ostial left atrial encirclement of the PVs may be preferable to ostial PV isolation. These findings also may have significant implications on the future development of coil- and balloon-based catheter ablation designs for AF ablation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-393
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Catheter ablation
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Pulmonary vein isolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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