Pulmonary vein antral isolation and nonpulmonary vein trigger ablation are sufficient to achieve favorable long-term outcomes including transformation to paroxysmal arrhythmias in patients with persistent and long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation

Jackson J. Liang, Melissa A. Elafros, Daniele Muser, Rajeev K. Pathak, Pasquale Santangeli, Erica S. Zado, David S. Frankel, Gregory E. Supple, Robert D. Schaller, Rajat Deo, Fermin C. Garcia, David Lin, Mathew D. Hutchinson, Michael P. Riley, David J. Callans, Francis E. Marchlinski, Sanjay Dixit

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Background - Transformation from persistent to paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF) after ablation suggests modification of the underlying substrate. We examined the nature of initial arrhythmia recurrence in patients with nonparoxysmal AF undergoing antral pulmonary vein isolation and nonpulmonary vein trigger ablation and correlated recurrence type with long-term ablation efficacy after the last procedure. Methods and Results - Three hundred and seventeen consecutive patients with persistent (n=200) and long-standing persistent (n=117) AF undergoing first ablation were included. AF recurrence was defined as early (≤6 weeks) or late (>6 weeks after ablation) and paroxysmal (either spontaneous conversion or treated with cardioversion ≤7 days) or persistent (lasting >7 days). During median follow-up of 29.8 (interquartile range: 14.8-49.9) months, 221 patients had ≥1 recurrence. Initial recurrence was paroxysmal in 169 patients (76%) and persistent in 52 patients (24%). Patients experiencing paroxysmal (versus persistent) initial recurrence were more likely to achieve long-term freedom off antiarrhythmic drugs (hazard ratio, 2.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.5-3.2; P<0.0001), freedom on/off antiarrhythmic drugs (hazard ratio, 2.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.6-3.8; P<0.0001), and arrhythmia control (hazard ratio, 5.2; 95% confidence interval, 2.9-9.2; P<0.0001) after last ablation. Conclusions - In patients with persistent and long-standing persistent AF, limited ablation targeting pulmonary veins and documented nonpulmonary vein triggers improves the maintenance of sinus rhythm and reverses disease progression. Transformation to paroxysmal AF after initial ablation may be a step toward long-term freedom from recurrent arrhythmia.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere004239
JournalCirculation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • atrial fibrillation
  • catheter ablation
  • pulmonary vein
  • recurrence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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