Right atrial function and fibrosis in relation to successful atrial fibrillation ablation

Eur Heart J Cardiovasc Imaging. 2022 Aug 3;jeac152. doi: 10.1093/ehjci/jeac152. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Aims: Bi-atrial remodelling in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) is rarely assessed and data on the presence of right atrial (RA) fibrosis, the relationship between RA and left atrial (LA) fibrosis, and possible association of RA remodelling with AF recurrence after ablation in patients with AF is limited.

Methods and results: A total of 110 patients with AF undergoing initial pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) were included in the present study. All patients were in sinus rhythm during cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging performed prior to ablation. LA and RA volumes and function (volumetric and feature tracking strain) were derived from cine CMR images. The extent of LA and RA fibrosis was assessed from 3D late gadolinium enhancement images. AF recurrence was followed up for 12 months after PVI using either 12-lead electrocardiograms or Holter monitoring. Arrhythmia recurrence was observed in 39 patients (36%) after the 90-day blanking period, occurring at a median of 181 (interquartile range: 122-286) days. RA remodelling parameters were not significantly different between patients with and without AF recurrence after ablation, whereas LA remodelling parameters were different (volume, emptying fraction, and strain indices). LA fibrosis had a strong correlation with RA fibrosis (r = 0.88, P < 0.001). Both LA and RA fibrosis were not different between patients with and without AF recurrence.

Conclusions: This study shows that RA remodelling parameters were not predictive of AF recurrence after AF ablation. Bi-atrial fibrotic remodelling is present in patients with AF and moreover, the amount of LA fibrosis had a strong correlation with the amount of RA fibrosis.

Keywords: atrial fibrillation; atrial fibrosis; atrial remodelling; cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR).