Background: Localized drivers are proposed mechanisms for persistent atrial fibrillation (AF) from optical mapping of human atria and clinical studies of AF, yet are controversial because drivers fluctuate and ablating them may not terminate AF. We used wavefront field mapping to test the hypothesis that AF drivers, if concurrent, may interact to produce fluctuating areas of control to explain their appearance/disappearance and acute impact of ablation. Methods: We recruited 54 patients from an international registry in whom persistent AF terminated by targeted ablation. Unipolar AF electrograms were analyzed from 64-pole baskets to reconstruct activation times, map propagation vectors each 20 ms, and create nonproprietary phase maps. Results: Each patient (63.6±8.5 years, 29.6% women) showed 4.0±2.1 spatially anchored rotational or focal sites in AF in 3 patterns. First, a single (type I; n=7) or, second, paired chiral-antichiral (type II; n=5) rotational drivers controlled most of the atrial area. Ablation of 1 to 2 large drivers terminated all cases of types I or II AF. Third, interaction of 3 to 5 drivers (type III; n=42) with changing areas of control. Targeted ablation at driver centers terminated AF and required more ablation in types III versus I (P=0.02 in left atrium). Conclusions: Wavefront field mapping of persistent AF reveals a pathophysiologic network of a small number of spatially anchored rotational and focal sites, which interact, fluctuate, and control varying areas. Future work should define whether AF drivers that control larger atrial areas are attractive targets for ablation.
- atrial fibrillation
- pulmonary veins
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)