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Ablation of “Background Tachycardia” in Long Standing Atrial Fibrillation: Improving the Outcomes by Unmasking a Residual Atrial Fibrillation Perpetuator


Background: Catheter ablation of long-standing persistent AF (LSAF) remains challenging. Since AF-Nest (AFN) description, we have observed that a stable, protected, fast source firing, namely “Background Tachycardia”(BT), could be hidden beneath the chaotic AF. Following pulmonary vein isolation (PVI)+AFN ablation one or more BT may arise or be induced in 30-40% of patients, which could be the culprit for AF maintenance and ablation recurrences. Methods and Results: We studied 114 patients, from 322 sequential LSAF regular ablations, having spontaneous or induced residual BT after EGM-guided PVI+AFN ablation of LSAF; 55.6±11y/o, 97males (85.1%), EF=65.5±8%, LA=42.8±6.7mm. Macroreentrant tachycardias were excluded. Pre-ablation AF 12-leads ECG Digital processing(DP) and spectral analysis(SA) was performed searching for BT before AF ablation and its correlation with BT during ablation. After PVI, 38.1±9 AFN sites/patient and 135 sustained BTs (1-3, 1.2±0.5/patient) were ablated. BT cycle length (CL) was 246.3±37.3ms. In 79 patients presenting suitable DP for SA, the BT-CL was 241.6±34.3ms with intra procedure BT-CL correlation r=0.83/p<0.01. Following BT ablation, AF could not be induced. During FU of 13→60 months(22.8±12m), AF freedom for BT RF(+) vs. BT RF(-) groups were 77.9% vs. 56.4% (p=0.009), respectively. There was no significant complication. Conclusion: BT ablation following PVI and AFN ablation improved long-term outcomes of LSAF ablation. BT is likely due to sustained microreentry, protected during AF by entry block. BT can be suspected by spectral analysis of the pre-ablation ECG and is likely one important AF perpetuator by causing electrical resonance of the AFN. This ablation strategy warrants randomized, multicenter investigation.

Credits: José Carlos Pachón Mateos, Enrique I Pachón Mateos, Tomas G Santillana Peña, Tasso Julio Lobo, Carlos Thiene C Pachón, Juán Carlos Pachón Mateos, Remy Nelson Albornoz V, Juán Carlos Zerpa Acosta, Felipe Ortencio and Mauricio Arruda



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Introduction to AFib
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