Background/objective: The purpose of this prospective multicenter study was to compare results of catheter ablation in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF) and those with nonparoxysmal atrial fibrillation (NPAF). The impact and the role of repeat catheter ablation were assessed in patients with recurrence.
Methods/results: One thousand four hundred four patients underwent catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF) performed by 12 operators at four institutions using a single technique guided by intracardiac echocardiography. Of these patients, 728 had PAF and 676 had NPAF. Among the NPAF patients, 293 had persistent AF and 383 had long-standing persistent AF. Patients with NPAF had a higher incidence of hypertension and/or structural heart disease (64.8% vs 48.5%, P = .003) and a lower mean left ventricular ejection fraction (53.3% +/- 8.7% vs 55.7 +/- 6.5%, P <.001). All patients underwent antral isolation of all four pulmonary veins and the superior vena cava. At mean follow-up of 57 +/- 17 months, 565 of 728 patients with PAF and 454 of 676 patients with NPAF (77.6% vs 67.2%, P <.001) had freedom from AF after a single ablation procedure. For arrhythmia recurrences, 74.2% (121/163) patients with PAF and 74.8% (166/222) with NPAF underwent repeat ablation, after which 92.4% patients with PAF and 84.0% patients with NPAF remained free from AF.
Conclusion: Pulmonary vein antrum isolation guided by intracardiac echocardiography results in significant freedom from AF, even when performed by multiple operators in different centers. At least moderate efficacy can be achieved in patients with NPAF, although the success rate is lower than in patients with PAF. Considerably higher success can be achieved in both groups with repeat ablation.