Background: There are no reports describing the technique, electrophysiological evaluation, and clinical consequences of complete linear block at roofline joining the superior pulmonary veins (PVs) in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF).
Methods and results: Ninety patients with drug-refractory paroxysmal AF undergoing radiofrequency ablation were prospectively randomized into 2 ablation strategies: (1) PV isolation (n=45) or (2) PV isolation in combination with linear ablation joining the 2 superior PVs (roofline; n=45). In both groups, the cavotricuspid isthmus, fragmented peri-PV-ostial electrograms, and spontaneous non-PV foci were ablated. Roofline ablation was performed at the most cranial part of the left atrium (LA) with complete conduction block demonstrated during LA appendage pacing by the online mapping of continuous double potential and an activation detour propagating around the PVs to activate caudocranially the posterior wall of the LA. The effect of ablation at the LA roof was evaluated by the change in fibrillatory cycle length, termination and noninducibility of AF, and clinical outcome. PV isolation was achieved in all patients with no significant differences in the radiofrequency duration, fluoroscopy, or procedural time between the groups. Roofline ablation required 12+/-6 (median 11, range 3 to 25) minutes of radiofrequency energy delivery with a fluoroscopic duration of 7+/-2 minutes and was performed in 19+/-7 minutes. Complete block was confirmed in 43 patients (96%) and resulted in an activation delay that was shorter circumventing the left than the right PVs during LA appendage pacing (138+/-15 versus 146+/-25 ms, respectively; P=0.01). Roofline ablation resulted in a significant increase in the fibrillatory cycle length (198+/-38 to 217+/-44 ms; P=0.0005), termination of arrhythmia in 47% (8/17), and subsequent noninducibility of AF in 59% (10/17) of the patients inducible after PV isolation. However, LA flutter, predominantly perimitral, could be induced in 10 patients (22%) after roofline ablation. At 15+/-4 months, 87% of the roofline group and 69% with PV isolation alone are arrhythmia free without antiarrhythmics (P=0.04).
Conclusions: This prospective randomized study demonstrates the feasibility of achieving complete linear block at the LA roof. Such ablation resulted in the prolongation of the fibrillatory cycle, termination of AF, and subsequent noninducibility and is associated with an improved clinical outcome compared with PV isolation alone.