Introduction: Invasive high-density mapping of atrial fibrillation (AF) has revealed different patterns of atrial activation ranging from single wavefronts to disorganized activation with multiple simultaneous wavefronts. Whether or not similar activation patterns can also be observed using body surface recordings is currently unknown, and was consequently evaluated in this study.
Methods and results: Surface electrocardiographic mapping was performed in 14 patients (age 68 +/- 14 years) with persistent AF (AF duration 12 +/- 18 months). A total of 56 electrocardiographic leads were placed on the chest over the atria on the front (n = 40) and on the back (n = 16). Using 240-second recordings, wavefront propagation maps were automatically computed and visually classified as either type I (single wavefront), II (single wavefront with wave breakages and splitting), or III (multiple simultaneous wavefronts). Almost half of the patients (n = 6) presented most predominantly type III atrial activation, while six patients mostly presented type I activation. The rest of the patients (n = 2) presented mixed type I and type III activations. This classification showed to be highly reproducible over 4 minutes.
Conclusions: Using electrocardiographic body surface mapping during AF, interindividual differences of atrial fibrillatory activation can be observed. The surface activation pattern during AF shows an excellent short-term reproducibility.