Mechanisms of late arrhythmia recurrence after initially successful pulmonary vein isolation in patients with atrial fibrillation

Nico Erhard, Tilman Mauer, Feifan Ouyang, Vanessa Sciacca, Andreas Rillig, Bruno Reissmann, Laura Rottner, Shibu Mathew, Christian Sohns, Christian Hendrik Heeger, Roland Richard Tilz, Karl Heinz Kuck, Andreas Metzner, Thomas Fink*

*Corresponding author for this work
4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Catheter ablation is an effective treatment for atrial fibrillation (AF,) but arrhythmia recurrence occurs in a relevant number of patients. Mechanisms of late occurring arrhythmias after ablation procedures are not fully understood. We analyzed electrophysiological mechanisms of early and late arrhythmia recurrences in patients who underwent radiofrequency-based catheter ablation of AF. Methods and results: Consecutive patients who underwent repeat ablation procedures after initial pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) for symptomatic arrhythmia recurrence were analyzed. A total of 110 consecutive patients who underwent catheter ablation for paroxysmal (79%) or persistent AF (21%) were included. Forty-seven patients suffered from early arrhythmia recurrence (group #1: 3–24 months), 29 patients from mid-term arrhythmia recurrences (group #2: 2–5 years), and 34 patients from late arrhythmia recurrences (group #3: > 5 years). Electrical PV reconnection was found in 98% in group #1, 72% in group #2 and 56% in group #3 (p <.001). Mode of arrhythmia recurrence was organized tachycardia in 25%, 28%, and 65% of patients in groups #1, #2, and #3 (p =.001), respectively. Patients with late arrhythmia recurrence had more pronounced left atrial low voltage as compared to patients with early arrhythmia recurrence based on two published scoring system. Conclusion: Electrical PV reconnection was found in the majority of patients with early AF recurrence after PVI. In patients with late arrhythmia recurrences this mechanism may play an inferior role, with many patients presenting without PV reconnection, but with LA structural alterations. Thus, early and late occurring arrhythmia recurrence after catheter ablation may be the same symptom of different diseases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPACE - Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)161-168
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 02.2023

Research Areas and Centers

  • Centers: Cardiological Center Luebeck (UHZL)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 205-12 Cardiology, Angiology

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