Electrographic flow mapping guided catheter ablation offers advantages for patients with persistent atrial fibrillation

Background: Catheter ablation (CA) remains challenging due to suboptimal success rates in persistent atrial fibrillation (AF). Existing mapping technologies cannot reliably distinguish sources in this patient population. Recently, the novel electrographic flow (EGF) mapping system was developed using a modified Horn-Schunk optical flow algorithm to detect and quantify patterns of electrical wavefront propagation in the atria.

Objectives: To test the hypothesis that targeted source ablation based on EGF mapping is superior to empiric AF ablation.

Methods: We included all consecutive patients undergoing EGF guided ablation for persistent AF. All patients underwent pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) and were treated with the same EAM system (CARTO). The outcome of PVI+EGF guided CA was compared with data of PVI-only procedures (PVI-only group) and PVI plus additional empiric adjunctive linear and substrate ablations (PVI+LINES group). 12-months outcome as freedom from AF and atrial tachycardia/flutter (AT/AFL), procedural safety and efficiency characterized by procedure duration, fluoroscopy use, radiofrequency applications and duration, were analyzed. Both intention-to-treat and per protocol analysis were conducted.

Results: A total number of 70 patients (39 in PVI+EGF, 16 in PVI-only and 15 patients in PVI+LINES group) were enrolled. Intention-to-treat analysis showed fewer AF recurrences in PVI+EGF as compared with the PVI-only or PVI+LINES groups at 12 months (25.6% vs. 62.5% vs. 53.3%, p = .02). There were no differences in AT/AFL recurrence (17.9% vs. 37.5% vs. 20.0%, p = .37). Procedure times were longer in PVI+EGF group (p < .01), and there were no differences in fluoroscopy use (p = .67).

Conclusion: Our data suggest that patients treated with EGF-guided CA developed fewer AF recurrences. Although the procedure times are longer, it seems to be safe and offers a more targeted, patient-specific ablation strategy beyond PVI than adjunctive empiric lines and substrate ablation in this complex group of patients.