Current ablation techniques for persistent atrial fibrillation: results of the European Heart Rhythm Association Survey

Nikolaos Dagres*, Maria Grazia Bongiorni, Torben Bjerregaard Larsen, Antonio Hernandez-Madrid, Laurent Pison, Carina Blomstrom-Lundqvist

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The aim of this survey was to provide insight into current practice regarding ablation of persistent atrial fibrillation (AF) among members of the European Heart Rhythm Association electrophysiology research network. Thirty centres responded to the survey. The main ablation technique for first-time ablation was stand-alone pulmonary vein isolation (PVI): in 67% of the centres for persistent but not long-standing AF and in 37% of the centres for long-standing persistent AF as well. Other applied techniques were ablation of fractionated electrograms, placement of linear lesions, stepwise approach until AF termination, and substrate mapping and isolation of low-voltage areas. However, the percentage of centres applying these techniques during first ablation did not exceed 25% for any technique. When stand-alone PVI was performed in patients with persistent but not long-standing AF, the majority (80%) of the centres used an irrigated radiofrequency ablation catheter whereas 20% of the respondents used the cryoballoon. Similar results were reported for ablation of long-standing persistent AF (radiofrequency 90%, cryoballoon 10%). Neither rotor mapping nor one-shot ablation tools were used as the main first-time ablation methods. Systematic search for non-pulmonary vein triggers was performed only in 10% of the centres. Most common 1-year success rate off antiarrhythmic drugs was 50-60%. Only 27% of the centres knew their 5-year results. In conclusion, patients with persistent AF represent a significant proportion of AF patients undergoing ablation. There is a shift towards stand-alone PVI being the primary choice in many centres for first-time ablation in these patients. The wide variation in the use of additional techniques and in the choice of endpoints reflects the uncertainties and lack of guidance regarding the most optimal approach. Procedural success rates are modest and long-term outcomes are unknown in most centres.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1596-1600
JournalEP Europace
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Persistent
  • Catheter ablation
  • EHRA survey
  • EP Wire

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