Morphological and physiological characteristics of discontinuous linear atrial ablations during atrial pacing and atrial fibrillation

Mark A. Mitchell, Ian D. McRury, Thomas H. Everett, Hui Li, J. Michael Mangrum, David E. Haines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations


Discontinuous Atrial Ablations. Introduction: Linear atrial ablations are thought to be necessary to accomplish successful catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation. In order to investigate the conduction characteristics of atrial myocardium in regions of linear lesion discontinuity (gaps), we performed activation sequence mapping in gap regions during atrial pacing and atrial fibrillation. Methods and Results. In seven dogs, a linear epicardial ablation was created on the right atrial free wall with a discontinuous segment (gap) in the mid-portion of the lesion. A plaque electrode was used to measure conduction across the gap. Conduction was assessed during (1) atrial pacing from the edge of the plaque electrode during sinus rhythm, and (2) during atrial fibrillation. After each series of measurements, the lesion gap was decreased by creating additional radiofrequency ablations and repeat conduction maps were obtained. The process was repeated until conduction block was observed during atrial pacing. Gap lengths ranged from 0 to 25 mm. During atrial pacing, gaps as narrow as 2 mm demonstrated normal conduction and gaps as large as 5 mm demonstrated block during pacing. Although conduction block was never present across gaps greater than 5 mm, the ability to predict conduction block as a function of gap width was difficult for lesions ≤ 5 mm due to a significant degree of overlap between normal conduction and conduction block in this gap range. During atrial fibrillation, 1/175 (0.6%) mapped wavelets conducted across gaps that demonstrated block during pacing; whereas, 411/600 (68.5%; P < 0.0001) wavelets conducted across gaps that did not demonstrate block during pacing (P = NS compared to preablation measurements). Histologically normal atrial myocytes were observed within gaps exhibiting conduction block. Conclusions: Visible gaps > 5 mm rarely demonstrate conduction block during atrial pacing and atrial fibrillation; whereas, gaps ≤ 5 mm in length may demonstrate block. Lesion gaps that do not demonstrate conduction block during atrial pacing have no higher rate of functional conduction block during atrial fibrillation than fibrillating atria without ablation lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-386
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of cardiovascular electrophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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