OBJECTIVE: Atrial flutter (AFl) is a common arrhythmia that can be categorized according to different self-sustained electrophysiological mechanisms. The non-invasive discrimination of such mechanisms would greatly benefit ablative methods for AFl therapy as the driving mechanisms would be described prior to the invasive procedure, helping to guide ablation. In the present work, we sought to implement recurrence quantification analysis (RQA) on 12-lead ECG signals from a computational framework to discriminate different electrophysiological mechanisms sustaining AFl. METHODS: 20 different AFl mechanisms were generated in 8 atrial models and were propagated into 8 torso models via forward solution, resulting in 1,256 sets of 12-lead ECG signals. Principal component analysis was applied on the 12-lead ECGs, and six RQA-based features were extracted from the most significant principal component scores in two different approaches: individual component RQA and spatial reduced RQA. RESULTS: In both approaches, RQA-based features were significantly sensitive to the dynamic structures underlying different AFl mechanisms. Hit rate as high as 67.7% was achieved when discriminating the 20 AFl mechanisms. RQA-based features estimated for a clinical sample suggested high agreement with the results found in the computational framework. CONCLUSION: RQA has been shown an effective method to distinguish different AFl electrophysiological mechanisms in a non-invasive computational framework. A clinical 12-lead ECG used as proof of concept showed the value of both the simulations and the methods. SIGNIFICANCE: The non-invasive discrimination of AFl mechanisms helps to delineate the ablation strategy, reducing time and resources required to conduct invasive cardiac mapping and ablation procedures.
The outcomes of ablation targeting either reentry activations or fractionated activity during persistent atrial fibrillation (AF) therapy remain suboptimal due to, among others, the intricate underlying AF dynamics. In the present work, we sought to investigate such AF dynamics in a heterogeneous simulation setup using recurrence quantification analysis (RQA). AF was simulated in a spherical model of the left atrium, from which 412 unipolar atrial electrograms (AEGs) were extracted (2 s duration; 5 mm spacing). The phase was calculated using the Hilbert transform, followed by the identification of points of singularity (PS). Three regions were defined according to the occurrence of PSs: 1) no rotors; 2) transient rotors and; 3) long-standing rotors. Bipolar AEGs (1114) were calculated from pairs of unipolar nodes and bandpass filtered (30-300 Hz). The CARTO criterion (Biosense Webster) was used for AEGs classification (normal vs. fractionated). RQA attributes were calculated from the filtered bipolar AEGs: determinism (DET); recurrence rate (RR); laminarity (LAM). Sample entropy (SampEn) and dominant frequency (DF) were also calculated from the AEGs. Regions with longstanding rotors have shown significantly lower RQA attributes and SampEn when compared to the other regions, suggesting a higher irregular behaviour (P≤0.01 for all cases). Normal and fractionated AEGs were found in all regions (respectively; Region 1: 387 vs. 15; Region 2: 221 vs. 13; Region 3: 415 vs. 63). Region 1 vs. Region 3 have shown significant differences in normal AEGs (P≤0.0001 for all RQA attributes and SampEn), and significant differences in fractionated AEGs for LAM, RR and SampEn (P=0.0071, P=0.0221 and P=0.0086, respectively). Our results suggest the co-existence of normal and fractionated AEGs within long-standing rotors. RQA has unveiled distinct dynamic patterns–irrespective of AEGs classification–related to regularity structures and their nonstationary behaviour in a rigorous deterministic context.