Panoramic electrophysiological mapping but not electrogram morphology identifies stable sources for human atrial fibrillation: Stable atrial fibrillation rotors and focal sources relate poorly to fractionated electrograms

Sanjiv M. Narayan, Kalyanam Shivkumar, David E. Krummen, John M. Miller, Wouter Jan Rappel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

116 Scopus citations


Background - The foundation for successful arrhythmia ablation is the mapping of electric propagation to identify underlying mechanisms. In atrial fibrillation (AF), however, mapping is difficult so that ablation has often targeted electrogram features, with mixed results. We hypothesized that wide field-of-view (panoramic) mapping of both atria would identify causal mechanisms for AF and allow interpretation of local electrogram features, including complex fractionated atrial electrograms (CFAE). Methods and Results - Contact mapping was performed using biatrial multipolar catheters in 36 AF subjects (29 persistent). Stable AF rotors (spiral waves) or focal sources were seen in 35 of 36 cases and targeted for ablation (focal impulse and rotor modulation) before pulmonary vein isolation. In 31 of 36 subjects (86.1%), AF acutely terminated (n=20; 16 to sinus rhythm) or organized (n=11; 19±8% slowing) with 2.5 minutes focal impulse and rotor modulation (interquartile range, 1.0-3.1) at one source, defined as the primary source. Subjects exhibited 2.1±1.0 concurrent AF sources of which the primary, by phase mapping, precessed in limited areas (persistent 2.5±1.7 versus paroxysmal 1.7±0.5 cm2; P=0.30). Notably, source regions showed mixed electrogram amplitudes and CFAE grades that did not differ from surrounding atrium (P=NS). AF sources were not consistently surrounded by CFAE (P=0.67). Conclusions - Stable rotors and focal sources for human AF were revealed by contact panoramic mapping (focal impulse and rotor modulation mapping), but not by electrogram footprints. AF sources precessed within areas of ≈2 cm2, with diverse voltage characteristics poorly correlated with CFAE. Most CFAE sites lie remote from AF sources and are not suitable targets for catheter ablation of AF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-67
Number of pages10
JournalCirculation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013



  • Atrium
  • Contact panoramic mapping
  • Electrophysiology
  • Fibrillation
  • FIRM ablation
  • Focal sources
  • Human
  • Rotors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Medicine(all)

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