Catheter ablation (CA) of atrial fibrillation (AF) is currently one of the most commonly performed electrophysiology procedures. Ablation of paroxysmal AF is based on the elimination of triggers by pulmonary vein isolation (PVI), while different strategies for additional AF substrate modification on top of PVI have been proposed for ablation of persistent AF. Nowadays, various technologies for AF ablation are available. The radiofrequency point-by-point ablation navigated by electro-anatomical mapping system and cryo-balloon technology are comparable in terms of the efficacy and safety of the PVI procedure. Long-term success of AF ablation including multiple procedures varies from 50 to 80%. Arrhythmia recurrences commonly occur, mostly due to PV reconnection. The recurrences are particularly common in patients with non-paroxysmal AF, dilated left atrium and the "early recurrence" of AF within the first 2–3 post-procedural months. In addition, this complex procedure can be accompanied by serious complications, such as cardiac tamponade, stroke, atrio-esophageal fistula and PV stenosis. Therefore, CA represents a second-line treatment option after a trial of antiarrhythmic drug(s). Good candidates for the procedure are relatively younger patients with symptomatic and frequent episodes of AF, with no significant structural heart disease and no significant left atrial enlargement. Randomized trials demonstrated the superiority of ablation compared to antiarrhythmic drugs in terms of improving the quality of life and symptoms in AF patients. However, nonrandomized studies reported additional clinical benefits from ablation over drug therapy in selected AF patients, such as the reduction of the mortality and stroke rates and the recovery of tachyarrhythmia-induced cardiomyopathy. Future research should enable the creation of more durable ablative lesions and the selection of the optimal lesion set in each patient according to the degree of atrial remodeling. This could provide better long-term CA success and expand indications for the procedure, especially among the patients with non-paroxysmal AF.
Advances in Therapy – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 21, 2017
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