Single procedural outcomes in the setting of percutaneous ablation for persistent atrial fibrillation: a propensity-matched score comparison between different strategies

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BACKGROUND: Catheter ablation for persistent atrial fibrillation (persAF) is associated with less favorable outcomes than for paroxysmal AF. To improve success rates, left atrial (LA) substrate modification is frequently performed in addition to pulmonary vein isolation (PVI). The purpose of the study was to compare 4 different ablation approaches using radiofrequency catheter ablation (RFCA) or cryoballoon ablation (CB-A) for persAF and to evaluate the respective outcomes on a midterm follow-up of 12 months.

METHODS: We did a propensity score-matched comparison of 30 patients undergoing PVI + LA posterior wall isolation (LAPWI) with CB-A, 30 patients who underwent PVI + linear ablation (roof and mitral lines) using RFCA, 60 patients with PVI alone using CB-A, and 60 patients who had PVI alone using RFCA. The endpoint was recurrence of documented atrial tachyarrhythmias (ATas) > 30 s at 1-year follow-up.

RESULTS: After 12 months, freedom from ATas after a single procedure was 83.3% in the PVI + LAPWI group, 46.7% in the PVI + linear ablation group, 58.3% in the PVI-alone CB-A group, and 61.6% PVI-alone RFCA (p = 0.03). Moreover, freedom from ATas was significantly higher comparing the PVI + LAPWI group with each of the other groups.

CONCLUSIONS: In this propensity-matched comparison of strategies for persAF, LAPW ablation in addition to PVI with CB-A seems to improve 1-year outcome in comparison to PVI + linear ablation using RFCA and to PVI alone using RFCA or CB-A. Randomized comparisons are eagerly awaited.

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