Feasibility of Uninterrupted Direct Oral Anticoagulants with Temporary Switching to Dabigatran (“Dabigatran Bridge”) for Catheter Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation

Uninterrupted anticoagulation therapy during atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation minimizes the risk of periprocedural thromboembolic events. Although the use of direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) has rapidly developed in patients undergoing AF ablation, no antidote is available for factor Xa inhibitors. We sought to investigate the feasibility of an uninterrupted DOAC protocol with temporary switching to dabigatran (“dabigatran bridge”) for AF ablation. The study consisted of consecutive 137 patients in whom DOACs were interrupted on the procedural day with heparin bridging (interrupted group) and 135 in whom DOACs were uninterrupted with temporary switching to dabigatran during the periprocedural hospitalization period (“dabigatran bridge” group). The coagulation markers were measured just before and after the ablation procedure. The adverse events during and up to 8 weeks after the procedure were compared according to the definition of the International Society on Thrombosis and Hemostasis. The patients were significantly older in the “dabigatran bridge” group; however, the other baseline patient characteristics were similar between the two groups. The incidence of all adverse events was comparable between the two groups (8/137 versus 8/135, P = 0.96); however, one patient from the interrupted group experienced stroke, and another from the “dabigatran bridge” group experienced cardiac tamponade, which was safely managed with an antidote. In the “dabigatran bridge” group, the activated partial thromboplastin time was significantly longer, and coagulation markers (soluble fibrin monomer and thrombin-antithrombin complexes) were significantly lower than in the interrupted group before ablation. The “dabigatran bridge” seems to be a reasonable anticoagulation protocol to minimize the thromboembolic risk while ensuring safety in patients undergoing AF ablation and taking factor Xa inhibitors.