Research Article|Articles in Press

Very long term outcomes of atrial fibrillation ablation

Published:February 08, 2023DOI:


      Little is known about the very long term durability of atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation.


      The purpose of this study was to evaluate very long term AF ablation outcomes.


      We followed 5200 patients undergoing 7145 ablation procedures. We evaluated outcomes after single and multiple ablation procedures for paroxysmal (PAF; 33.6%), persistent (PeAF; 56.4%), and long-standing (LsAF; 9.9%) AF. We compared 3 ablation eras by initial ablation catheter: early (101 patients) using solid big tip (SBT) catheters (October 2003 to December 2005), intermediate (2143 patients) using open irrigated tip (OIT) catheters (December 2005 to August 2016), and contemporary (2956 patients) using contact force (CF) catheters (March 2014 to December 2021).


      AF freedom at 5, 10, and 15 years was as follows: initial ablation: PAF 67.8%, 56.3%, 47.6%; PeAF 46.6%, 35.6%, 26.5%; and LsAF 30.4%, 18.0%, 3.4%; final ablation: PAF 80.3%, 72.6%, 62.5%; PeAF 60.1%, 50.2%, 42.5%; and LsAF 43.4%, 32.0%, 20.6%. For PAF and PeAF, CF ablation procedures were better than OIT ablation procedures (P < .0001) and both were better than SBT ablation procedures (P < .001). LsAF had no outcome improvement over the eras. The 8-year success rate after final ablation for CF, OIT, and SBT catheter eras was as follows: PAF 79.1%, 71.8%, 60.0%; PeAF 55.9%, 50.7%, 38.0%; and LsAF 42.7%, 36.2%, 31.8%. Highest AF recurrence was in the first 2 years, with a 2- to 15-year recurrence of 2%/yr. Success predictors after initial and final ablation procedures were younger age, smaller left atrium, shorter AF duration, male sex, less persistent AF, lower CHA2DS2-VASc score, fewer drugs failed, and more recent catheter era.


      After year 2, there is 2%/yr recurrence rate for all AF types. Ablation success is best in the CF catheter era, intermediate in the OIT era, and worst in the SBT era. Over the ablation eras, outcomes improved for PAF and PeAF but not for LsAF. We should follow patients indefinitely after ablation. We need an understanding of how to better ablate more persistent AF.

      Graphical abstract


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