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Thinking outside the Box: Rotor Modulation in the Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation


Ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF) is an important and exciting therapy whose results remain suboptimal.  Although most clinical trials show that ablation eliminates AF more effectively than medications, it is disappointing that the continued single procedural success remains ≈50% despite the substantial advances that have taken place in imaging, catheter positioning and energy delivery. Focal impulse and rotor modulation (FIRM), on the other hand, offers the opportunity to precisely define and then ablate patient-specific sustaining mechanisms for AF, rather than trying to eliminate all possible AF triggers.  For over a decade, electrophysiologists have described cases in which AF terminates after only limited ablation – usually that cannot be explained by ‘random’ meandering wavelets.  Indeed, recent studies from several laboratories show that all forms of clinical AF are typically ‘driven’ by stable electrical rotors and focal sources, not by multiple meandering waves.  FIRM mapping enables an operator to place a catheter at typically 1-3 predicted sites in the atria, and with <5-10 minutes of RF ablation, terminate AF and potentially render it non-inducible.   Several independent laboratories have now shown that such FIRM ablation alone can terminate or substantially slow AF in >80% of patients with persistent and paroxysmal AF and increase the single procedure rate of AF elimination from 50% with PV isolation alone to >80%.  Ongoing studies hint that FIRM only ablation, enabling ablation times in the range observed for typical atrial flutter, may also achieve these high success rates without subsequent trigger ablation.  This review summarizes the current state-of-the-art on FIRM mapping and ablation.

Credits: Ruchir Sehra MD FHRS; Sanjiv M. Narayan, MD, PHD; FHRS,John Humme, MD

Biosense Webster
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Introduction to AFib
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