Several groups report electrical rotors or focal sources that sustain atrial fibrillation (AF) after it has been triggered. However, it is difficult to separate stable from unstable activity in prior studies that examined only seconds of AF. We applied phase-based focal impulse and rotor mapping (FIRM) to study the dynamics of rotors/sources in human AF over prolonged periods of time.We prospectively mapped AF in 260 patients (169 persistent, 61 ± 12 years) at 6 centers in the FIRM registry, using baskets with 64 contact electrodes per atrium. AF was phase mapped (RhythmView, Topera, Menlo Park, CA, USA). AF propagation movies were interpreted by each operator to assess the source stability/dynamics over tens of minutes before ablation.Sources were identified in 258 of 260 of patients (99%), for 2.8 ± 1.4 sources/patient (1.8 ± 1.1 in left, 1.1 ± 0.8 in right atria). While AF sources precessed in stable regions, emanating activity including spiral waves varied from collision/fusion (fibrillatory conduction). Each source lay in stable atrial regions for 4,196 ± 6,360 cycles, with no differences between paroxysmal versus persistent AF (4,290 ± 5,847 vs. 4,150 ± 6,604; P = 0.78), or right versus left atrial sources (P = 0.26).Rotors and focal sources for human AF mapped by FIRM over prolonged time periods precess ("wobble") but remain within stable regions for thousands of cycles. Conversely, emanating activity such as spiral waves disorganize and collide with the fibrillatory milieu, explaining difficulties in using activation mapping or signal processing analyses at fixed electrodes to detect AF rotors. These results provide a rationale for targeted ablation at AF sources rather than fibrillatory spiral waves.
View details for DOI 10.1111/jce.12559
View details for Web of Science ID 000346020800004
View details for PubMedID 25263408