Does electrogram guided substrate ablation add to the success of pulmonary vein isolation in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation? A prospective, randomized study

Isabel Deisenhofer, Heidi Estner, Tilko Reents, Stephanie Fichtner, Axel Bauer, Jinjin Wu, Christof Kolb, Bernhard Zrenner, Claus Schmitt, Gabriele Hessling
Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology 2009, 20 (5): 514-21

INTRODUCTION: Pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) is an established treatment for paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF). The ablation of complex fractionated atrial electrograms (CFAE) has emerged as a novel treatment approach. We sought to evaluate the additional effect of CFAE ablation to PVI in paroxysmal AF.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Ninety-eight patients with paroxysmal AF (57 +/- 10 years, 74 male) were randomized to the PVI (n = 48) or PVI + CFAE group (n = 50). After PVI, CFAE ablation was performed in patients with inducible AF in the PVI + CFAE group. The primary endpoint was combined objective (7-day Holter ECG) and subjective (symptoms) freedom of atrial tachyarrhythmia 3 months after ablation. Long-term follow-up (19 +/- 8 months) was available in 94 of 98 patients. CFAE ablation was performed in 30 of 50 patients of the PVI + CFAE group. After 3 months, 36 of 48 patients (75%) in the PVI group and 38 of 50 patients (76%) in the PVI + CFAE group were in stable sinus rhythm (P = NS). During long-term follow-up (19 +/- 8 months), 34 of 46 patients (74%) in the PVI group and 40 of 48 patients (83%) in the PVI + CFAE group were in sinus rhythm (P = 0.08). In a subgroup analysis, a significantly better long-term outcome was achieved if inducible AF after PVI had been treated by additional CFAE ablation as compared with PVI only (sinus rhythm in 25/28 patients; 89% vs 22/30 patients 73%; P = 0.003).

CONCLUSION: In the intention-to-treat analysis, additional CFAE ablation did not improve the success rate of PVI in patients with paroxysmal AF. However, during long-term follow-up, patients with still inducible AF after PVI seemed to profit from additional CFAE ablation.

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