Pulmonary vein triggers play an important role in the initiation of atrial flutter: Initial results from the prospective randomized Atrial Fibrillation Ablation in Atrial Flutter (Triple A) trial

Ralph Schneider, Joerg Lauschke, Tina Tischer, Cindy Schneider, Wolfgang Voss, Felix Moehlenkamp, Aenne Glass, Doreen Diedrich, Dietmar Bänsch
Heart Rhythm: the Official Journal of the Heart Rhythm Society 2015, 12 (5): 865-71

BACKGROUND: The incidence of atrial fibrillation (AF) after ablation of a cavotricuspid isthmus (CTI)-dependent atrial flutter (AFL) is high.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that AFL and AF may be initiated by pulmonary vein triggers. This prospective randomized trial tested the efficacy of a standalone pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) in patients with AFL but without AF.

METHODS: Patients with AFL but without documented AF were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatment groups: (1) antiarrhythmic drugs (AAD), (2) CTI ablation, or (3) circumferential PVI. The primary end-point was defined as any recurrent atrial tachyarrhythmia and the secondary end-point as recurrence of AFL. In case of tachyarrhythmia recurrence in the PVI group, a second PVI was performed to close gaps in the ablation lines.

RESULTS: Of the 60 patients, 17 were randomized to AAD, 23 to CTI ablation, and 20 to PVI. During follow-up of 1.42 ± 0.83 years, 14 of 17 patients (82.4%) in the AAD group, 14 of 23 patients (60.9%) in the CTI group, and 2 of 20 patients (10%) in the PVI group reached the primary end-point (P <.001) after a mean of 1.4 PVI procedures per patient. AFL reoccurred in 9 patients (52.9.%) in the AAD group, in 2 patients (8.7%) in the CTI group, and after a single PVI in 3 patients (15%) in the PVI group (P = .003). After closure of gaps, 1 patient (5%) in the PVI group presented with recurrent AFL.

CONCLUSION: Pulmonary vein triggers play an important role in AFL. PVI can prevent the recurrence of AFL, even without CTI ablation.

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