Aims Atrial cardiomyopathy (ACM) is associated with new-onset atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia recurrence after pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) and increased risk for stroke. At present, diagnosis of ACM is feasible by endocardial contact mapping of left atrial (LA) low-voltage substrate (LVS) or late gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging, but their complexity limits a widespread use. The aim of this study was to assess non-invasive body surface electrocardiographic imaging (ECGI) as a novel clinical tool for diagnosis of ACM compared with endocardial mapping. Methods and results Thirty-nine consecutive patients (66 ± 9 years, 85% male) presenting for their first PVI for persistent atrial fibrillation underwent ECGI in sinus rhythm using a 252-electrode-array mapping system. Subsequently, high-density LA voltage and biatrial activation maps (mean 2090 ± 488 sites) were acquired in sinus rhythm prior to PVI. Freedom from arrhythmia recurrence was assessed within 12 months follow-up. Increased duration of total atrial conduction time (TACT) in ECGI was associated with both increased atrial activation time and extent of LA-LVS in endocardial contact mapping (r = 0.77 and r = 0.66, P < 0.0001 respectively). Atrial cardiomyopathy was found in 23 (59%) patients. A TACT value of 148 ms identified ACM with 91.3% sensitivity and 93.7% specificity. Arrhythmia recurrence occurred in 15 (38%) patients during a follow-up of 389 ± 55 days. Freedom from arrhythmia was significantly higher in patients with a TACT <148 ms compared with patients with a TACT ≥148 ms (82.4% vs. 45.5%, P = 0.019). Conclusion Analysis of TACT in non-invasive ECGI allows diagnosis of patients with ACM, which is associated with a significantly increased risk for arrhythmia recurrence following PVI.
Identification of atrial sites that perpetuate atrial fibrillation (AF), and ablation thereof terminates AF, is challenging. We hypothesized that specific electrogram (EGM) characteristics identify AF-termination sites (AFTS). Twenty-one patients in whom low-voltage-guided ablation after pulmonary vein isolation terminated clinical persistent AF were included. Patients were included if short RF-delivery for <8sec at a given atrial site was associated with acute termination of clinical persistent AF. EGM-characteristics at 21 AFTS, 105 targeted sites without termination and 105 non-targeted control sites were analyzed. Alteration of EGM-characteristics by local fibrosis was evaluated in a three-dimensional high resolution (100 µm)-computational AF model. AFTS demonstrated lower EGM-voltage, higher EGM-cycle-length-coverage, shorter AF-cycle-length and higher pattern consistency than control sites (0.49 ± 0.39 mV vs. 0.83 ± 0.76 mV, p < 0.0001; 79 ± 16% vs. 59 ± 22%, p = 0.0022; 173 ± 49 ms vs. 198 ± 34 ms, p = 0.047; 80% vs. 30%, p < 0.01). Among targeted sites, AFTS had higher EGM-cycle-length coverage, shorter local AF-cycle-length and higher pattern consistency than targeted sites without AF-termination (79 ± 16% vs. 63 ± 23%, p = 0.02; 173 ± 49 ms vs. 210 ± 44 ms, p = 0.002; 80% vs. 40%, p = 0.01). Low voltage (0.52 ± 0.3 mV) fractionated EGMs (79 ± 24 ms) with delayed components in sinus rhythm ('atrial late potentials', respectively 'ALP') were observed at 71% of AFTS. EGMs recorded from fibrotic areas in computational models demonstrated comparable EGM-characteristics both in simulated AF and sinus rhythm. AFTS may therefore be identified by locally consistent, fractionated low-voltage EGMs with high cycle-length-coverage and rapid activity in AF, with low-voltage, fractionated EGMs with delayed components/ 'atrial late potentials' (ALP) persisting in sinus rhythm.