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Fatal cerebral air embolism from atrio-oesophageal fistula following cardiac ablation


A young woman with Rogers syndrome (thiamine-responsive megaloblastic anaemia, diabetes mellitus and sensorineural deafness) presented with headache, recurrent supraventricular tachycardia and features of an upper gastrointestinal bleed, 1 month after radiofrequency cardiac ablation for supraventricular tachycardia. She deteriorated rapidly after endoscopy and subsequently died. Brain imaging during the acute deterioration showed diffuse intracranial air embolism and hypoxic–ischaemic injury. Postmortem examination showed an atrio-oesophageal fistula, a rare complication of cardiac ablation. Clinicians should suspect this condition in patients with acute neurological deterioration after cardiac ablation who have diffuse air embolism on imaging.

  • MRI

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