Aims Phrenic nerve palsy (PNP) after mechanical transvenous lead extraction (TLE) was recently described for the first time. We aimed to analyse our TLE database for the presence of PNP.
Methods and results All consecutive patients referred to our institution were included in this study. Every available post-procedural chest X-ray was compared to the routinely performed pre-procedural radiographs. A newly elevated hemidiaphragm ipsilateral to TLE was considered indicative of PNP. Altogether 255 TLE procedures with extraction of 364 leads were performed. Most common TLE indication was lead malfunction (63%). Complete radiographic success rate was 97.3% with an in-hospital procedure-related major complication rate of 2.4%, including one intra-procedural death (0.4%). We identified five cases with PNP (2%), all occurring after laser-assisted TLE. Clinical presentation varied from subtle and aspecific chest pain/discomfort to severe and acute dyspnoea, with time to diagnosis varying from immediate to several weeks after the procedure. In 80% of cases, the explanted lead was a defibrillator electrode and the median lead dwelling time was 70.2 months (29.3; 1084.9). In four cases, the extraction was performed using high-energy laser (pulse repetition rate 80 Hz).
Conclusion The present study reports the incidence of PNP after laser-assisted TLE. We postulate that the thermal energy generated by laser is not dissipated quickly enough in occluded or heavily calcified lesions, injuring the ipsilateral phrenic nerve. Our findings advise to carefully consider to increase pulse repetition rate at the subclavian level. Larger, possibly prospective studies are needed to evaluate the real incidence through systematic radiological assessment after TLE.