Who is the operator, that is the question: a multicentre study of catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation

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AimsA worldwide survey reported that the success rate of atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation was higher in high-volume centers compared with low-volume centers. We tested whether the procedure volume of each operator was associated with the outcome of AF ablation in high-volume centres.Methods and resultsWe studied 471 patients with paroxysmal AF who underwent pulmonary vein (PV) isolation for the first time in three cardiovascular centers where the annual AF ablation volume was >100 procedures. We classified a total of 10 primary operators according to their operation volume on the basis of ACC/AHA/ACP CLINICAL COMPETENCE STATEMENT; high-volume operator (≥50 cases/year, N = 3) or low-volume operator (<50 cases/year, N = 7). The patients included were dichotomized according to the annual operation volume of their attending physician. The endpoints were the freedom from AF recurrence 1 year after the ablation, major complications including thromboembolisms, massive bleeding or death, and the procedural duration.ResultsA complete isolation of the four PVs was achieved in 99.1%. The freedom from AF recurrence was more common in patients treated by high-volume operators than those treated by low-volume operators (165/216 [76.4%] vs. 160/255 [62.8%]; P = 0.001). A high-volume operator was the only independent predictor of the freedom from AF recurrence (hazard ratio 1.73, 95% confidence interval 1.23–2.48; P = 0.002). The patients treated by high-volume operators were less likely to have major complications (1.4% vs. 7.8%; P = 0.001), and had a shorter procedural duration (139.9 ± 25.3 vs. 149.3 ± 27.1 min; P = 0.03).ConclusionsOperator proficiency may predict the outcome after AF ablation even in high-volume centres.

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