Background: The effects of left atrial (LA) circumferential ablation on LA function in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) have not been well described.
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of LA circumferential ablation on LA function.
Methods: Gated, multiphase, dynamic contrast-enhanced computed tomographic (CT) scans of the chest with three-dimensional reconstructions of the heart were used to calculate the LA ejection fraction (EF) in 36 patients with paroxysmal (n = 27) or chronic (n = 9) AF (mean age 55 +/- 11 years) and in 10 control subjects with no history of AF. Because CT scans had to be acquired during sinus rhythm, a CT scan was available both before and after (mean 5 +/- 1 months) LA circumferential ablation (LACA) in only 10 patients. A single CT scan was acquired in 8 patients before and in 18 patients after LACA ablation. Radiofrequency catheter ablation was performed using an 8-mm-tip catheter to encircle the pulmonary veins, with additional lines along the mitral isthmus and the roof.
Results: In patients with paroxysmal AF, LA EF was lower after than before LACA (21% +/- 8% vs 32 +/- 13%, P = .003). LA EF after LA catheter ablation was similar among patients with paroxysmal AF and those with chronic AF (21% +/- 8% vs 23 +/- 13%, P = .7). However, LA EF after LA catheter ablation was lower in all patients with AF than in control subjects (21% +/- 10% vs 47% +/- 5%, P < .001).
Conclusion: During medium-term follow-up, restoration of sinus rhythm by LACA results in partial return of LA function in patients with chronic AF. However, in patients with paroxysmal AF, LA catheter ablation results in decreased LA function. Whether the impairment in LA function is severe enough to predispose to LA thrombi despite elimination of AF remains to be determined.