We aimed to determine how many electrical cardioversions (ECs) should be applied to treat repetitive persistent recurrences of atrial fibrillation (AF) following ablation of persistent AF within the early post-procedural period.Methods and results
A total of 40 patients with >1 episode of recurrent AF in the form of persistent atrial arrhythmias within 3 months following the ablation were recruited from 108 patients who underwent ablation for persistent or long-standing persistent AF. Electrical cardioversions were applied up to six times, if necessary, to restore sinus rhythm at clinical visits at 2-week intervals until 3 months after the ablation. Fourteen (35%) ablation failures defined as recurrences of AF identified from the 3rd month after the ablation procedure were finally diagnosed during the follow-up period (14 ± 4 month). The patients with an ablation failure more frequently required ECs than those without (3.7 ± 0.3 vs. 1.2 ± 0.2 times; P < 0.0001). A receiver-operating characteristic curve identified a number of ECs of ≥3 as the optimal cut-off value for predicting an ablation failure (area under the curve 0.91; sensitivity, 86%, and specificity, 96%; P = 0.0007). In the multivariate logistic regression analysis, a number of ECs of ≥3 was the only independent predictor of an ablation failure (odds ratio, 11.32; 95% confidence interval, 3.83–58.22; P = 0.0019).Conclusion
It was difficult to maintain sinus rhythm in patients with persistent AF who required several ECs for recurrences of AF within the early post-ablation period.