Contemporary Management of Direct Oral Anticoagulants During Cardioversion and Ablation for Nonvalvular Atrial Fibrillation

Toby C. Trujillo, Paul P. Dobesh, George H. Crossley, Shannon W. Finks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


As overall prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) continues to rise, the number of patients who undergo ablation, or electrical/chemical cardioversion, to restore normal sinus rhythm continues to increase as well. As direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) have continued to be incorporated into clinical practice for long-term anticoagulation for AF, experience with how best to manage use of DOACs during electrophysiologic procedures is evolving. This review is intended to provide health care providers with a summary of current evidence regarding the use of DOACs during cardioversion and catheter ablation and provide key considerations for their use during such electrophysiologic procedures. PubMed and MEDLINE were searched from inception through June 2018 for studies in humans comparing DOACs alone or against vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) in adult patients (> 18 yrs) who underwent cardioversion or AF catheter ablation using the following key words: “rivaroxaban,” “dabigatran,” “apixaban,” “edoxaban,” “non–vitamin K antagonists,” “direct or new oral anticoagulants,” “warfarin,” “vitamin K antagonists,” “cardioversion,” “ablation of atrial fibrillation,” “uninterrupted,” and “catheter ablation.” Four retrospective studies and three prospective trials comparing DOACs with VKA in patients undergoing cardioversion and three prospective studies in patients undergoing catheter ablation for AF were identified. Observational data and meta-analyses were also critically reviewed. Prospective trials to date suggest similar efficacy and safety with using DOACs in the setting of cardioversion and AF ablation compared to traditional therapy with VKA, with or without bridging. Injectable anticoagulant overlap can be avoided in patients receiving DOACs in the setting of cardioversion for AF. Minimal interruption in anticoagulation may be only necessary for AF ablation in those with highest bleeding risk, such as in renal dysfunction and where drug-drug interactions may increase risk for anticoagulant accumulation. Periprocedural advantages of DOACs include convenience, rapid and predictable onset of effect, improved patient satisfaction, and potential for reduced costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-108
Number of pages15
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • ablation
  • cardioversion
  • direct oral anticoagulants
  • electrophysiology procedures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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