Persistent atrial fibrillation (PeAF) may develop arrhythmogenic substrates of rotors/multiple wavelets. However, the ways in which pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) affects the dynamics of rotor/multiple wavelets in PeAF patients remain elusive. Real-time phase-mapping (ExTRa mapping, EXT) in the whole left atrium (LA) was performed during PeAF before and after PVI (n = 111). The percentage of time in which rotor/multiple wavelets (phase singularities) was observed during each 5-s phase-mapping recording (non-passive activation ratio, %NP) was measured as an index of its burden. The mapping areas showing %NP ≥ 50% were defined as rotor/multiple-wavelet substrates (RSs). Before PVI, RSs were globally distributed in the LA. After PVI, %NP decreased (< 50%) in many RSs (PVI-modifiable RSs) but remained high (≥ 50%) in some RSs, especially localized in the anterior/septum/inferior regions (PVI-unmodifiable RSs, 2.3 ± 1.0 areas/patient). Before PVI, vagal response (VR) to high-frequency stimulation was observed in 23% of RSs, especially localized in the inferior region. VR disappearance after PVI was more frequently observed in PVI-modifiable RSs (79%) than in PVI-unmodifiable RSs (55%, p < 0.05), suggesting that PVI affects autonomic nerve activities and rotor/multiple wavelet dynamics. PVI-unmodifiable RSs were adjunctively ablated in 104 patients. The 1-year AT/AF-free survival rate was 70% in those with PVI alone (n = 115), and 86% in patients with the adjunctive ablation (log-rank test = 7.65, p < 0.01). PVI suppresses not only ectopic firing but also rotor/multiple wavelets partly via modification of autonomic nerve activities. The adjunctive ablation of PVI-unmodifiable RSs improved the outcome in PeAF patients and might be a novel ablation strategy beyond PVI.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes