There is controversy and sparse data on whether substrate based techniques in addition to pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) confer benefit in the catheter ablation of persistent atrial fibrillation (AF), especially if long standing. We performed an observational study to assess whether substrate based ablation improved freedom from atrial arrhythmia.
286 patients undergoing first ablation procedures for persistent AF with PVI only, PVI plus linear ablation, or PVI plus complex fractionated electrogram (CFAE) and linear ablation were followed. Primary end point was freedom from atrial arrhythmia at one year.
Mean duration of pre-procedure time in AF was 28+/-27 months. Freedom from atrial arrhythmia was higher with a PVI+CFAE+lines strategy then for PVI alone (HR 1.56, 95% CI: 1.04-2.34, p=0.032) but was not higher with PVI+lines. Benefit of substrate modification was conferred for pre-procedure times in AF of over 30 months. The occurrence of atrial tachycardia was higher when lines were added to the ablation strategy (HR 0.08, 95% CI: 0.01-0.59, p=0.014). Freedom from atrial arrhythmia at 1 year was higher with lower patient age, use of general anaesthetic (GA), normal or mildly dilated left atrium and decreasing time in AF.
In patients with very long standing persistent AF of over 30 months duration, CFAE ablation resulted in improved freedom from atrial arrhythmia. Increased freedom from atrial arrhythmia occurs in patients who are younger and have smaller atria, and with GA procedures. Linear ablation did not improve outcome and resulted in a higher incidence of atrial tachycardia.
Credits: Claire Martin; James Curtain: Parag Gajendragadkar; David Begley; Simon Fynn; Andrew Grace; Patrick Heck; Munmohan Virdee; Sharad Agarwal