Outcomes of long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation ablation: a systematic review

Heart Rhythm. 2010 Jun;7(6):835-46. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2010.01.017. Epub 2010 Jan 22.


Background: Ablation of long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation (AF) is highly variable, with differing techniques and outcomes.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to undertake a systematic review of the literature with regard to the impact of ablation technique on the outcomes of long-standing persistent AF ablation.

Methods: A systematic search of the contemporary English scientific literature (from January 1, 1990 to June 1, 2009) in the PubMed database identified 32 studies on persistent/long-standing persistent or long-standing persistent AF ablation (including four randomized controlled trials). Data on single-procedure, drug-free success, multiple procedure success, and pharmaceutically assisted success at longest follow-up were collated.

Results: Four studies performed pulmonary vein isolation alone (21%-22% success). Four studies performed pulmonary vein antrum ablation with isolation (PVAI; n = 2; 38%-40% success) or without confirmed isolation (PVA; n = 2; 37%-56% success). Ten studies performed linear ablation in addition to PVA (n = 5; 11%-74% success) or PVAI (n = 5; 38%-57% success). Three studies performed posterior wall box isolation (n = 3; 44%-50% success). Five studies performed complex fractionated atrial electrogram ablation (n = 5; 24%-63% success). Six studies performed complex fractionated atrial electrogram ablation as an adjunct to PVA (n = 2; 50%-51% success), PVAI (n = 3; 36%-61% success), or PVAI and linear (n = 1; 68% success) ablation. Five studies performed the stepwise ablation approach (38%-62% success).

Conclusion: The variation in success within and between techniques suggests that the optimal ablation technique for long-standing persistent AF is unclear. Nevertheless, long-standing persistent AF can be effectively treated with a composite of extensive index catheter ablation, repeat procedures, and/or pharmaceuticals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / therapeutic use
  • Atrial Fibrillation / pathology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / surgery*
  • Catheter Ablation*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Veins / pathology
  • Pulmonary Veins / surgery
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents