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Contact Force and Atrial Fibrillation Ablation

Catheters able to measure the force and vector of contact between the catheter tip and myocardium are now available.  Pre-clinical work has established that the degree of contact between the radiofrequency ablation catheter and myocardium correlates with the size of the delivered lesion.  Excess contact is associated with steam pops and perforation.  Catheter contact varies within the left atrium secondary to factors including respiration, location, atrial rhythm and the trans-septal catheter delivery technology used.  Compared with procedures performed without contact force (CF)-sensing, the use of this technology has, in some studies, been found to improve complication rates, procedure and fluoroscopy times, and success rates.  However, for each of these parameters there are also studies suggesting a lack of difference from the availability of CF data.  Nevertheless, CF-sensing technology has been adopted as a standard of care in many institutions.  It is likely that use of CF-sensing technology will allow for the optimization of each individual radiofrequency application to maximize efficacy and procedural safety.  Recent work has attempted to define what these optimal targets should be, and approaches to do this include assessing for sites of pulmonary vein reconnection after ablation, or comparing the impedance response to ablation.  Based on such work, it is apparent that factors including mean CF, force time integral (the area under the force-time curve) and contact stability are important determinants of ablation efficacy.  Multicenter prospective randomized data are lacking in this field and required to define the CF parameters required to produce optimal ablation.   

Credits: Waqas Ullah; Richard Schilling; Tom Wong

Biosense Webster
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Introduction to AFib
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