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Heart Rhythm. 2010 Oct;7(10):1475-81. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2010.06.030. Epub 2010 Jul 1.

Evaluation of the left atrial substrate in patients with lone atrial fibrillation using delayed-enhanced MRI: implications for disease progression and response to catheter ablation.

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Comprehensive Arrhythmia and Research Management (CARMA) Center, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.



Lone atrial fibrillation (AF) is thought to be a benign type or an early stage of the disease.


This study sought to compare the left atrium (LA) substrate using delayed-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DE-MRI) in patients with lone AF versus those with comorbidities.


Forty of 333 included patients met criteria for lone AF. All patients underwent DE-MRI to quantify atrial fibrosis as a marker for structural remodeling (SRM) and underwent catheter ablation. Based on the degree of SRM, patients were staged into 4 groups: Utah I (≤5% LA wall enhancement), Utah II (>5% to ≤20%), Utah III (>20% to ≤35%), or Utah IV (>35%).


Distribution in Utah I to IV was comparable in patients with lone AF and non-lone AF. In both groups, a number of patients showed extensive SRM. Mean enhancement (14.08 ± 8.94 vs. 16.94 ± 11.37) was not significantly different between the 2 groups (P = .0721). In the lone AF group, catheter ablation was successful in suppressing AF in all of Utah I, 81.82% of Utah II, 62.5% of Utah III, and none of Utah IV patients. Similar results were achieved in the non-lone AF group. Outcome after ablation was significantly dependent on the SRM of the LA (P < .001).


The degree of LA structural remodeling as detected using DE-MRI is independent of AF type and associated comorbidities. Selecting appropriate treatment candidates based on the quality and quantity of atrial fibrosis using DE-MRI would improve procedural outcome and avoid unnecessary intervention.

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