Background - Advances in ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF) continue to be hindered by ambiguities in mapping, even between experts. We hypothesized that convolutional neural networks (CNN) may enable objective analysis of intracardiac activation in AF, which could be applied clinically if CNN classifications could also be explained. Methods - We performed panoramic recording of bi-atrial electrical signals in AF. We used the Hilbert-transform to produce 175,000 image grids in 35 patients, labeled for rotational activation by experts who showed consistency but with variability (kappa=0.79). In each patient, ablation terminated AF. A CNN was developed and trained on 100,000 AF image grids, validated on 25,000 grids, then tested on a separate 50,000 grids. Results - In the separate test cohort (50,000 grids), CNN reproducibly classified AF image grids into those with/without rotational sites with 95.0% accuracy (CI 94.8-95.2%). This accuracy exceeded that of support vector machines, traditional linear discriminant and k-nearest neighbor statistical analyses. To probe the CNN, we applied Gradient-weighted Class Activation Mapping which revealed that the decision logic closely mimicked rules used by experts (C-statistic 0.96). Conclusions - Convolutional neural networks improved the classification of intracardiac AF maps compared to other analyses, and agreed with expert evaluation. Novel explainability analyses revealed that the CNN operated using a decision logic similar to rules used by experts, even though these rules were not provided in training. We thus describe a scaleable platform for robust comparisons of complex AF data from multiple systems, which may provide immediate clinical utility to guide ablation.
View details for DOI 10.1161/CIRCEP.119.008160
View details for PubMedID 32631100