Temporal stability of atrial electrogram fractionation in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation

Am J Cardiol. 2013 Mar 15;111(6):863-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2012.11.050. Epub 2012 Dec 28.


The atrial sites associated with fractionated activity and/or high-frequency signals are commonly considered as targets of ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF); however, their temporal stability has not been established. A total of 21 patients with paroxysmal AF were studied. Left atrial (LA) ganglionated plexi (GP) were identified by high-frequency stimulation, and prolonged (3-minute) electrogram sampling from the GP and the posterior wall of the left atrium during AF was acquired. Fast Fourier transformation was used to determine the dominant frequencies (DFs) of the recorded electrogram signals and to study their temporal variability. The DF at the identified GP was 5.34 ± 0.78 Hz and at the posterior LA wall was 5.58 ± 0.87 Hz. Fractionation, expressed as electrograms exhibiting consecutive DFs deferring >20%, was detected at 21 of the studied GP (84%) and 7 of the posterior LA wall sites (44%). Fractionation, expressed as electrograms exhibiting DFs >8 Hz, was detected at 6 GP (24%) and 1 posterior LA wall site (6%). During the 3-minute recordings, the derived DFs were temporally variable, exhibiting an average coefficient of variation of 15.2 ± 12.0%. Fractionation, expressed by significant consecutive DF variability (>20%), was detected only for 18.0 ± 19.0% of the recording period at GP and for 12.7 ± 13.4% at the posterior LA wall. In conclusion, atrial electrograms are temporarily variable, and fractionation is transient at atrial sites associated with fractionated electrical activity during AF. Our results question the clinical validity of fractionated atrial electrograms for ablation purposes.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Atrial Fibrillation / diagnostic imaging
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology*
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Female
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Heart Atria / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Veins / diagnostic imaging
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, Spiral Computed