Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Electronic address: [Email]
OBJECTIVE : This study sought to determine the long-term right atrial (RA) electrical and structural changes in a subgroup from the CAMERA-MRI (Catheter Ablation Versus Medical Rate Control in Atrial Fibrillation and Systolic Dysfunction-Magnetic Resonance Imaging) study. BACKGROUND : Catheter ablation (CA) is successful in restoring ventricular function in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) and otherwise unexplained cardiomyopathy, as demonstrated in the randomized study of CA versus rate control (CAMERA-MRI). It is unknown if this is associated with atrial remodeling. METHODS : Detailed electroanatomical (EA) mapping of the RA using CARTO3 and a force sensing catheter was performed at initial CA and electively at least 12 months after CA in patients with >90% reduction in AF burden following ablation. Bipolar voltage, fractionation, and conduction velocity were collected in 4 segments together with echo and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. RESULTS : Fifteen patients (mean age 59.1 ± 6.8 years) underwent repeat RA EA mapping. At a mean follow-up of 23.4 ± 11.9 months, left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction improved from 33.6 ± 3.2% to 54.1 ± 3.2% (p = 0.001), RA area decreased from 28.4 ± 2.0 cm2 to 20.8 ± 1.2 cm2 (p < 0.001), and left atrial area decreased from 32.9 ± 2.3 cm2 to 26.8 ± 1.4 cm2 (p = 0.007). On EA mapping, RA bipolar voltage increased from 1.6 ± 0.1 mV to 1.9 ± 0.1 mV (p = 0.04). Tissue voltage increased across all regions, which achieved statistical significance at the posterior (p = 0.002) and septal (p = 0.01) segments. There was a significant decrease in complex fractionated electrograms from 21.7 ± 3.5% to 8.3 ± 1.8% (p = 0.002); however, no significant change occurred in global or regional conduction velocities (p = 0.5). CONCLUSIONS : Recovery of atrial electrical and structural changes was observed following restoration of sinus rhythm and recovery of LV function in patients who underwent CA for persistent AF and LV systolic dysfunction. The randomized CAMERA MRI study demonstrated significant improvement in LV systolic function with AF ablation compared with rate control. The present study demonstrated reverse electrical and structural atrial recovery in concert with recovery of LV systolic function at 2 years post-AF ablation. This may partially explain the long-term success of CA in patients with AF and otherwise unexplained cardiomyopathy.