Mechanisms of Wave Fractionation at Boundaries of High-Frequency Excitation in the Posterior Left Atrium of the Isolated Sheep Heart During Atrial Fibrillation
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Background— High-frequency fractionated electrograms recorded during atrial fibrillation (AF) in the posterior left atrium (PLA) and elsewhere are being used as target sites for catheter ablation. We tested the hypothesis that highly periodic electric waves emerging from AF sources at or near the PLA give rise to the most fractionated activity in adjacent locations.
Methods and Results— Sustained AF was induced in 8 isolated sheep hearts (0.5 μmol/L acetylcholine). Endocardial videoimaging (DI-4-ANEPPS) and electric mapping of the PLA enabled spatial characterization of dominant frequencies (DFs) and a regularity index (ratio of DF to total power). Regularity index showed that fractionation was lowest within the area with the maximal DF (DFmax domain; 0.19±0.02) and highest within a band of &3 mm (0.16±0.02; P=0.047) at boundaries with lower-frequency domains. The numbers of spatiotemporal periodic episodes (25.9±2.3) and rotors per experiment (1.9±0.7) were also highest within the DFmax domain. Most commonly, breakthrough waves at the PLA traveled toward the rest of the atria (76.8±8.1% outward versus 23.2±8.1% inward; P<0.01). In both experiments and simulations with an atrial ionic model, fractionation at DFmax boundaries was associated with increased beat-to-beat variability of conduction velocity and directionality with wavebreak formation.
Conclusions— During stable AF, the PLA harbors regular, fast, and highly organized activity; the outer limit of the DFmax domain is the area where the most propagation pattern variability and fractionated activity occur. These new concepts introduce a new perspective in the clinical use of high-frequency fractionated electrograms to localize sources of AF precisely at the PLA and elsewhere.
Received July 12, 2005; revision received November 17, 2005; accepted December 2, 2005.