Focal source and trigger mapping in atrial fibrillation: Randomized controlled trial evaluating a novel adjunctive ablation strategy

Heart Rhythm. 2020 May;17(5 Pt A):683-691. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2019.12.011. Epub 2020 Jan 25.


Background: Intraoperative mapping has demonstrated focal activations during human atrial fibrillation (AF). These putative AF sources can manifest sustained periodic bipolar and unipolar QS electrograms (EGMs). We have automated the detection of these EGM features using our validated Focal Source and Trigger (FaST) computational algorithm.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to conduct a randomized controlled pilot evaluating the feasibility and efficacy of FaST mapping/ablation as an adjunct to pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) in reducing AF recurrence.

Methods: We randomized 80 patients with high-burden paroxysmal or persistent AF (age 61 ± 10 years; 75% male) to PVI alone (n = 41) or PVI+FaST mapping/ablation (n = 39). The primary endpoint was time to AF recurrence >30 seconds between 3 and 12 months after 1 procedure.

Results: FaST sites were identified in all but 1 patient and were localized to pulmonary vein (PV) (2.1 ± 1.1 per patient) and extra-PV regions (2.8 ± 1.4 per patient). FaST mapping and ablation times were 27 ± 9 minutes and 8.5 ± 5 minutes, respectively. Patients with AF termination during ablation had greater AF cycle length prolongation with PVI+FaST than PVI (Δ20 ± 14 ms vs Δ5 ± 17 ms; P = .046). Freedom from AF recurrence at 12 months was higher in PVI+FaST vs PVI for patients off antiarrhythmic drugs (74% vs 51%; hazard ratio 0.48; 95% confidence interval 0.21-1.08; P = .064) but did not quite reach statistical significance. Major adverse events were similar between the 2 groups.

Conclusion: In this randomized controlled pilot, real-time FaST mapping provided an intuitive, automated approach for localizing focal AF sources. FaST ablation as an adjunct to PVI may reduce AF recurrence, which requires verification with a larger multicenter trial.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Catheter ablation; Focal sources; Pulmonary veins; Signal processing.