Rotors have long been postulated to drive atrial fibrillation, but evidence has been limited to animal models. This changed recently with the demonstration using focal impulse and rotor modulation (FIRM) mapping that rotors act as human atrial fibrillation sources. This mechanistic approach to diagnosing the causes of atrial fibrillation in individual patients has been supported by substantially improved outcomes from FIRM-guided ablation, resulting in increased attention to rotors as therapeutic targets.In this review, we outline the pathophysiology of rotors in animal and in-silico studies of fibrillation, and how this motivated FIRM mapping in humans. We highlight the characteristics of rotors in human atrial fibrillation, now validated by several techniques, with discussion on similar and discrepant findings between techniques. The interventional approaches to eliminate atrial fibrillation rotors are explained and the ablation results in latest studies using FIRM are discussed.We propose that mapping localized sources for human atrial fibrillation, specifically rotors, is moving the field towards a unifying hypothesis that explains several otherwise contradictory observations in atrial fibrillation management. We conclude by suggesting areas of potential research that may reveal more about these critical sites and how these may lead to better and novel treatments for atrial fibrillation.
View details for DOI 10.1097/HCO.0000000000000123
View details for Web of Science ID 000346157200004
View details for PubMedID 25389649