Objectives To investigate long-term efficacy of catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF) and the impact of ablating complex or fractionated electrograms (CFEs) in addition to pulmonary vein isolation and linear lesions in persistent AF (PeAF).
Methods Consecutive cases from 2002–2007 were analysed. All the patients underwent a wide-area circumferential ablation with confirmation of electrical isolation. For PeAF, linear lesions were added, with additional targeting of CFE from 2005. Data were collected in a prospective database. Attempts were made to contact all patients for follow-up.
Results 285 patients underwent 530 procedures. The mean (SD) age was 57 (11) years, 75% were male, 20% had structural heart disease and 53% had paroxysmal AF (PAF). The mean number of procedures was 1.9 per patient (1.7 for PAF and 2.0 for PeAF). Procedural complications included stroke or transient ischemic attack in 0.6% and pericardial effusion requiring drainage in 1.7%. During 2.7 years (0.2 to 7.4 years) of follow-up from the last procedure, there were seven deaths (unrelated to their ablation or AF) and three strokes or transient ischemic attack (0.3% per year). Freedom from AF/atrial tachyarrhythmia was 86% for PAF and 68% for PeAF. Late recurrence was 3 per 100 years of follow-up after >3 years. The Kaplan–Meier analysis showed that CFE ablation improved the outcome for PeAF after the first cluster of procedures (p=0.049), with a trend towards improved final outcome (p=0.130).
Conclusions Long-term freedom from AF is achievable in most patients with PAF and PeAF with low rates of late recurrence. Additional targeting of CFE improves outcome for PeAF. Late adverse events including stroke are few.
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Funding RJH is supported by a grant from the British Heart Foundation (PG/08/130). ID is supported by a grant from Boston Scientific.
Competing interests RJS is a member of the scientific advisory board for Biosense Webster. He is listed on the Speakers Bureau for Endocardial Solutions and has received payment for lectures sponsored by them. RJS, SS, MJE, MD, DA and GT have also received support for travel to international meetings from Guidant, Medtronic, St Jude Medical, Endocardial Solutions, and Biosense Webster.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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