Ablation versus Anti-Arrhythmic Therapy for Reducing All Hospital Episodes from Recurrent Atrial Fibrillation (AVATAR-AF): Design and rationale.


Imperial College London, London, UK; Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK. Electronic address: [Email]


Atrial Fibrillation (AF) ablation using the cryoballoon is effective at reducing symptomatic AF episodes. The prevalence of AF is increasing with the aging population and access to such treatment would be enhanced by reducing the resource requirements. Relinquishing electrical mapping of the pulmonary veins (PV) removes the need for PV catheters, electrical recording equipment and staff trained in using this equipment. Moreover, the majority of complications are peri-procedural so overnight hospitalization maybe unnecessary. We tested this streamlined approach to AF ablation against medical therapy using the endpoint of time to all hospital episodes. METHODS: The AVATAR-AF study is a prospective, multicenter, randomized controlled trial testing the primary hypothesis that AF ablation done without PV mapping or overnight hospitalization is more effective than anti-arrhythmic drugs at reducing all hospital episodes related to recurrent atrial arrhythmias. We included a third arm to test a secondary hypothesis that confirming PV entrance block as per consensus guidelines can improve outcomes. Three hundred twenty-one patients with documented paroxysmal AF will be randomized in a 1:1:1 manner to one of three investigation arms: (1) AVATAR protocol cryoballoon ablation without assessment of acute PV isolation or overnight hospitalization; (2) medical therapy with anti-arrhythmic drugs; or (3) conventional cryoballoon ablation with assessment of acute PV isolation. The primary endpoint is defined as the time to all hospital episodes (including outpatient consultation) related to treatment for atrial arrhythmia. CONCLUSION: The AVATAR-AF study will determine whether the resource utilization for AF ablation can be reduced whilst maintaining superiority over medical therapy.

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