Stand-Alone Pulmonary Vein Isolation Versus Pulmonary Vein Isolation With Additional Substrate Modification as Index Ablation Procedures in Patients With Persistent and Long-Standing Persistent Atrial Fibrillation: The Randomized Alster-Lost-AF Trial (Ablation at St. Georg Hospital for Long-Standing Persistent Atrial Fibrillation)

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Background—Pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) for persistent atrial fibrillation is associated with limited success rates and often requires multiple procedures to maintain stable sinus rhythm. In the prospective and randomized Alster-Lost-AF trial (Ablation at St. Georg Hospital for Long-Standing Persistent Atrial Fibrillation), we sought to assess, in patients with symptomatic persistent or long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation, the outcomes of initial ablative strategies comprising either stand-alone PVI (PVI-only approach) or a stepwise approach of PVI followed by complex fractionated atrial electrogram ablation and linear ablation (Substrate-modification approach).Methods and Results—Patients were randomized 1:1 to stand-alone PVI or PVI plus substrate modification. The primary study end point was freedom from recurrence of any atrial tachyarrhythmia, outside a 90-day blanking period, at 12 months. A total of 124 patients were enrolled, with 118 patients included in the analysis (61 in the PVI-only group, 57 in the Substrate-modification group). Atrial tachyarrhythmias recurred in 28 PVI-only group patients and 24 Substrate-modification group patients, for 1-year freedom from tachyarrhythmia recurrence after a single ablation procedure of 54% (95% confidence interval, 43%–68%) in the PVI-only and 57% (95% confidence interval, 46%–72%) in the Substrate-modification group (P=0.86). Twenty-four patients in the PVI-only group (39%) and 18 in the Substrate-modification group (32%) were without arrhythmia recurrence and off antiarrhythmic drug therapy at the end of the 12-month follow-up.Conclusions—In patients with persistent and long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation, no significant difference was observed in 12-month freedom from atrial tachyarrhythmias between an index ablative approach of stand-alone PVI and a stepwise approach of PVI plus complex fractionated atrial electrogram and linear ablation.Clinical Trial Registration—URL: Unique identifier: NCT00820625.

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