It is unknown to what extent atrial fibrillation (AF) episodes affect intra-atrial conduction velocity (CV) and whether regional differences in local CV heterogeneities exist during sinus rhythm. This case-control study aims to compare CV assessed throughout both atria between patients with and without AF. Patients (n = 34) underwent intra-operative epicardial mapping of the right atrium (RA), Bachmann's bundle (BB), left atrium (LA) and pulmonary vein area (PVA). CV vectors were constructed to calculate median CV in addition to total activation times (TAT) and unipolar voltages. Biatrial median CV did not differ between patients with and without AF (90 ± 8 cm/s vs. 92 ± 6 cm/s, p = 0.56); only BB showed a CV reduction in the AF group (79 ± 12 cm/s vs. 88 ± 11 cm/s, p = 0.02). In patients without AF, there was no predilection site for the lowest CV (P5) (RA: 12%; BB: 29%; LA: 29%; PVA: 29%). In patients with AF, lowest CV was most often measured at BB (53%) and ranged between 15 to 22 cm/s (median: 20 cm/s). Lowest CVs were also measured at the LA (18%) and PVA (29%), but not at the RA. AF was associated with a prolonged TAT (p = 0.03) and decreased voltages (P5) at BB (p = 0.02). BB was a predilection site for slowing of conduction in patients with AF. Prolonged TAT and decreased voltages were also found at this site. The next step will be to determine the relevance of a reduced CV at BB in relation to AF development and maintenance.
Keywords: atrial fibrillation; atrial remodeling; conduction velocity; electrophysiology.