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Heart Rhythm. 2010 May;7(5):586-93. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2010.01.010. Epub 2010 Jan 11.

The temporal variability of dominant frequency and complex fractionated atrial electrograms constrains the validity of sequential mapping in human atrial fibrillation.

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Department of Medicine at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, Vermont 05401, USA.



It has been proposed that sequential mapping of dominant frequency (DF) and complex fractionated atrial electrograms (CFAE) can identify target sites for ablation of atrial fibrillation (AF). These mapping strategies are valid only if DF and CFAE are temporally stable on the timescale of the mapping procedure. We postulate that DF and CFAE are temporally variable; consequently, sequential mapping can be misleading.


To make prolonged spatially stable multielectrode recordings to assess the temporal stability of DF and CFAE.


We recorded electrical activity for 5 minutes with the use of a 64-electrode basket catheter placed in the left atrium of 18 patients presenting for AF ablation. DF and CFAE were determined off-line, and their temporal variability was quantified. Maps created from simultaneous versus sequentially acquired data were compared.


DF was temporally variable: the average temporal coefficient of variation was 22.7% +/- 5.4%. DF sites were transient, meeting criteria for only 22.1 seconds out of 5 minutes. Similarly, CFAEs were transient (average duration of CFAE 8.8 +/- 11.3 seconds). DF and CFAE sequential maps failed to identify 93.0% +/- 12.4% and 35.9% +/- 14.9% of DF and CFAE sites, respectively.


Because of temporal variability, sequential DF and CFAE maps do not accurately reflect the spatial distribution of excitation frequency during any given sampling interval. The spatial distribution of DF and CFAE sites on maps created with sequential point acquisition depends upon the time at which each site is sampled.

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