Background: Atrial flutter (AFL) and atrial fibrillation (AF) frequently coexist in the same patient. Recently it has been demonstrated that the triggers for both AF and AFL may originate in the pulmonary veins (PVs). We hypothesized that in patients with both AF and typical AFL, pulmonary vein-left atrial junction (PV-LAJ) disconnection may eliminate both arrhythmias.
Methods and results: Consecutive patients with documented symptomatic AF and typical AFL were randomly assigned to have PV-LAJ disconnection combined with cavotricuspid isthmus (CTI) ablation (group 1, n=49) or PV-LAJ disconnection alone (group 2, n=59). Within the first 8 weeks after ablation, 32 of the group 2 patients had typical AFL documented, whereas none was seen in group 1. Twenty of these 32 converted to sinus rhythm after initiating antiarrhythmic drugs (AADs). Twelve were cardioverted, and AADs were started. After 8 weeks, all AADS were stopped, and only 3 patients continued to have recurrent sustained typical AFL that was eliminated by CTI ablation. Beyond 8 weeks of follow-up, 7 patients in group 1 and 6 patients in group 2 (14% and 11%, respectively) continued to have AF. Ten of these 13 patients underwent a repeat PV-LAJ disconnection procedure and were cured. The remaining 3 remained in normal sinus rhythm while taking AADs.
Conclusions: In patients with both AFL and AF, PV-LAJ disconnection alone may be sufficient to control both arrhythmias. CTI block reduced early postablation recurrence of arrhythmias, which in the majority of patients reflects a short-term clinical problem.