Atrial Fibrillation–Atrial Flutter Interactions
Clinical Implications for Ablation
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An appreciation of the article by Moreira et al in the current issue of Circulation1 requires an understanding of the close interrelationship between atrial fibrillation (AF) and atrial flutter (AFL). These authors have understood this interrelationship and applied it to their data to advance the approach to both AF and AFL ablation. Key to this understanding is the recognition that cavotricuspid isthmus (CTI)–dependent AFL almost always develops from antecedent AF of variable duration.2–5 This is because in almost all instances, it is during the AF that a functional line of block (LoB) necessary for the development of AFL forms between the superior and inferior vena cavae. This LoB acts as a critical lateral boundary that prevents short-circuiting of the AFL reentrant circuit. Thus, in the vast majority of instances, without preceding AF, there can be no AFL. The most recent additional support of this concept comes from the report by Ellis et al,6 which found that of 363 patients who presented with only CTI-dependent AFL and who underwent CTI ablation, long-term follow-up (mean of 39±11 months) demonstrated newly recognized AF in 82%. It also should be noted that, as Moreira et al1 recognize, in some patients, a LoB between the vena cavae may be fixed (ie, anatomic) rather than functional. In such patients, AF may not be required for AFL to develop.
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As Moreira et al1 further recognize, their report does not answer all the questions about the interrelationships of AF and AFL as they relate to AF ablation, …