Real-time measurement of contact force (CF) during catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation (AF) has been recently suggested to potentially impact procedural outcome. However, the role of CF intensity on mid-term results using the SmartTouch™ catheter has not been investigated so far.Methods and results
Pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) using the SmartTouch™ catheter was performed in 100 eligible patients (age 62 ± 8; 79% men) undergoing a first procedure of paroxysmal AF catheter ablation. Continuous CF monitoring during catheter ablation allowed calculation of mean CF per patient. Patients were dichotomized into high CF (≥22 g, upper quartile) and low CF (<22 g, remaining) and enroled in a standardized follow-up programme (after a 3-month blanking period), free from antiarrhythmic therapy, with regular evaluations including 24 h Holter recordings at 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 18, and 24 months. Atrial fibrillation relapse was defined as any symptomatic or asymptomatic atrial arrhythmia lasting >30 s. The average CF among all procedures was 19.6 ± 3.7 g. Though complete PVI was eventually achieved in all cases in both groups, success using an exclusively anatomical approach was higher in the high CF group (92.0 vs. 72.0%; P = 0.04). During a mean follow-up of 19 ± 5 months, a lower incidence of AF relapse was observed in higher CF patients (4.0 vs. 20.0%; log rank P = 0.04). Pericardial tamponade occurred in one patient in the higher CF group. No thromboembolism or procedure-associated deaths were observed.Conclusion
Higher values of CF overall during antral PVI appear to be associated with a higher likelihood of sinus rhythm maintenance without significantly increasing the complication rate.