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Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol. 2014 Feb;7(1):23-30. doi: 10.1161/CIRCEP.113.000689. Epub 2013 Dec 20.

Atrial fibrillation ablation outcome is predicted by left atrial remodeling on MRI.

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Comprehensive Arrhythmia Research and Management Center, Division of Cardiology, Department of Surgery, Department of Radiology, Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute, Bioengineering, Department of Pathology, and Division of Epidemiology, University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Salt Lake City.



Although catheter ablation therapy for atrial fibrillation (AF) is becoming more common, results vary widely, and patient selection criteria remain poorly defined. We hypothesized that late gadolinium enhancement MRI (LGE-MRI) can identify left atrial (LA) wall structural remodeling (SRM) and stratify patients who are likely or not to benefit from ablation therapy.


LGE-MRI was performed on 426 consecutive patients with AF without contraindications to MRI before undergoing their first ablation procedure and on 21 non-AF control subjects. Patients were categorized by SRM stage (I-IV) based on the percentage of LA wall enhancement for correlation with procedure outcomes. Histological validation of SRM was performed comparing LGE-MRI with surgical biopsy. A total of 386 patients (91%) with adequate LGE-MRI scans were included in the study. After ablation, 123 patients (31.9%) experienced recurrent atrial arrhythmias during the 1-year follow-up. Recurrent arrhythmias (failed ablations) occurred at higher SRM stages with 28 of 133 (21.0%) in stage I, 40 of 140 (29.3%) in stage II, 24 of 71 (33.8%) in stage III, and 30 of 42 (71.4%) in stage IV. In multivariate analysis, ablation outcome was best predicted by advanced SRM stage (hazard ratio, 4.89; P<0.0001) and diabetes mellitus (hazard ratio, 1.64; P=0.036), whereas increased LA volume and persistent AF were not significant predictors. LA wall enhancement was significantly greater in patients with AF versus non-AF controls (16.6±11.2% versus 3.1±1.9%; P<0.0001). Histological evidence of remodeling from surgical biopsy specimens correlated with SRM on LGE-MRI.


Atrial SRM is identified on LGE-MRI, and extensive LGE (≥30% LA wall enhancement) predicts poor response to catheter ablation therapy for AF.


atrial remodeling; catheter ablation; magnetic resonance imaging

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