Section 1: Introduction
During the past three decades, catheter and surgical ablation of atrial fibrillation (AF) have evolved from investigational procedures to their current role as effective treatment options for patients with AF. Surgical ablation of AF, using either standard, minimally invasive, or hybrid techniques, is available in most major hospitals throughout the world. Catheter ablation of AF is even more widely available, and is now the most commonly performed catheter ablation procedure.
In 2007, an initial Consensus Statement on Catheter and Surgical AF Ablation was developed as a joint effort of the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS), the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA), and the European Cardiac Arrhythmia Society (ECAS).
HRS/EHRA/ECAS expert Consensus Statement on catheter and surgical ablation of atrial fibrillation: recommendations for personnel, policy, procedures and follow-up. A report of the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) Task Force on catheter and surgical ablation of atrial fibrillation.
The 2007 document was also developed in collaboration with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC). This Consensus Statement on Catheter and Surgical AF Ablation was rewritten in 2012 to reflect the many advances in AF ablation that had occurred in the interim.
2012 HRS/EHRA/ECAS expert consensus statement on catheter and surgical ablation of atrial fibrillation: recommendations for patient selection, procedural techniques, patient management and follow-up, definitions, endpoints, and research trial design.
The rate of advancement in the tools, techniques, and outcomes of AF ablation continue to increase as enormous research efforts are focused on the mechanisms, outcomes, and treatment of AF. For this reason, the HRS initiated an effort to rewrite and update this Consensus Statement. Reflecting both the worldwide importance of AF, as well as the worldwide performance of AF ablation, this document is the result of a joint partnership between the HRS, EHRA, ECAS, the Asia Pacific Heart Rhythm Society (APHRS), and the Latin American Society of Cardiac Stimulation and Electrophysiology (Sociedad Latinoamericana de Estimulación Cardíaca y Electrofisiología [SOLAECE]). The purpose of this 2017 Consensus Statement is to provide a state-of-the-art review of the field of catheter and surgical ablation of AF and to report the findings of a writing group, convened by these five international societies. The writing group is charged with defining the indications, techniques, and outcomes of AF ablation procedures. Included within this document are recommendations pertinent to the design of clinical trials in the field of AF ablation and the reporting of outcomes, including definitions relevant to this topic.
The writing group is composed of 60 experts representing 11 organizations: HRS, EHRA, ECAS, APHRS, SOLAECE, STS, ACC, American Heart Association (AHA), Canadian Heart Rhythm Society (CHRS), Japanese Heart Rhythm Society (JHRS), and Brazilian Society of Cardiac Arrhythmias (Sociedade Brasileira de Arritmias Cardíacas [SOBRAC]). All the members of the writing group, as well as peer reviewers of the document, have provided disclosure statements for all relationships that might be perceived as real or potential conflicts of interest. All author and peer reviewer disclosure information is provided in Appendix A
and Appendix B
In writing a consensus document, it is recognized that consensus does not mean that there was complete agreement among all the writing group members. Surveys of the entire writing group were used to identify areas of consensus concerning performance of AF ablation procedures and to develop recommendations concerning the indications for catheter and surgical AF ablation. These recommendations were systematically balloted by the 60 writing group members and were approved by a minimum of 80% of these members. The recommendations were also subject to a 1-month public comment period. Each partnering and collaborating organization then officially reviewed, commented on, edited, and endorsed the final document and recommendations.
The grading system for indication of class of evidence level was adapted based on that used by the ACC and the AHA.
- Jacobs A.K.
- Anderson J.L.
- Halperin J.L.
The evolution and future of ACC/AHA clinical practice guidelines: a 30-year journey: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines.
Evolution of the ACC/AHA clinical practice guidelines in perspective: guiding the guidelines.
It is important to state, however, that this document is not a guideline. The indications for catheter and surgical ablation of AF, as well as recommendations for procedure performance, are presented with a Class and Level of Evidence (LOE) to be consistent with what the reader is familiar with seeing in guideline statements. A Class I recommendation means that the benefits of the AF ablation procedure markedly exceed the risks, and that AF ablation should be performed; a Class IIa recommendation means that the benefits of an AF ablation procedure exceed the risks, and that it is reasonable to perform AF ablation; a Class IIb recommendation means that the benefit of AF ablation is greater or equal to the risks, and that AF ablation may be considered; and a Class III recommendation means that AF ablation is of no proven benefit and is not recommended.
The writing group reviewed and ranked evidence supporting current recommendations with the weight of evidence ranked as Level A if the data were derived from high-quality evidence from more than one randomized clinical trial, meta-analyses of high-quality randomized clinical trials, or one or more randomized clinical trials corroborated by high-quality registry studies. The writing group ranked available evidence as Level B-R when there was moderate-quality evidence from one or more randomized clinical trials, or meta-analyses of moderate-quality randomized clinical trials. Level B-NR was used to denote moderate-quality evidence from one or more well-designed, well-executed nonrandomized studies, observational studies, or registry studies. This designation was also used to denote moderate-quality evidence from meta-analyses of such studies. Evidence was ranked as Level C-LD when the primary source of the recommendation was randomized or nonrandomized observational or registry studies with limitations of design or execution, meta-analyses of such studies, or physiological or mechanistic studies of human subjects. Level C-EO was defined as expert opinion based on the clinical experience of the writing group.
Despite a large number of authors, the participation of several societies and professional organizations, and the attempts of the group to reflect the current knowledge in the field adequately, this document is not intended as a guideline. Rather, the group would like to refer to the current guidelines on AF management for the purpose of guiding overall AF management strategies.
2014 AHA/ACC/HRS guideline for the management of patients with atrial fibrillation: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society.
2016 ESC guidelines for the management of atrial fibrillation developed in collaboration with EACTS.
This consensus document is specifically focused on catheter and surgical ablation of AF, and summarizes the opinion of the writing group members based on an extensive literature review as well as their own experience. It is directed to all health care professionals who are involved in the care of patients with AF, particularly those who are caring for patients who are undergoing, or are being considered for, catheter or surgical ablation procedures for AF, and those involved in research in the field of AF ablation. This statement is not intended to recommend or promote catheter or surgical ablation of AF. Rather, the ultimate judgment regarding care of a particular patient must be made by the health care provider and the patient in light of all the circumstances presented by that patient.
The main objective of this document is to improve patient care by providing a foundation of knowledge for those involved with catheter ablation of AF. A second major objective is to provide recommendations for designing clinical trials and reporting outcomes of clinical trials of AF ablation. It is recognized that this field continues to evolve rapidly. As this document was being prepared, further clinical trials of catheter and surgical ablation of AF were under way.