Cardiac magnetic resonance-derived right atrial functional analysis in patients with atrial fibrillation and typical atrial flutter

Esra Gucuk Ipek, Mohammadali Habibi, Tarek Zghaib, Stefan L. Zimmerman, Hugh Calkins, Joao Lima, Saman Nazarian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Typical atrial flutter (AFL) often occurs in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). Decision-making tools for application of prophylactic cavo-tricuspid isthmus (CTI) ablation at the time of AF ablation may improve outcomes. In this study, we sought to define the right atrial (RA) functional characteristics of AF patients with documented typical AFL. Methods: Consecutive patients that underwent cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) prior to initial AF ablation in the Johns Hopkins Hospital were enrolled. The AF database was reviewed to identify prevalent and incident documented typical AFL. Feature tracking CMR analysis during sinus rhythm was utilized to quantify RA longitudinal strain and strain rate, as well as RA passive and active emptying fractions derived from phasic RA volumes. Results: A total of 115 patients were analyzed (mean age 59.1 ± 11.4 years, 78.3% male, 74.8% paroxysmal AF). Of all patients, 30 (26.1%) had typical AFL. Clinical characteristics and AF type did not differ among groups defined by the absence or presence of typical AFL. In contrast, RA longitudinal strain (41.6 ± 16.8% vs. 55.8 ± 17.1%, p ≤ 0.001), systolic strain rate (1.71 ± 0.85 s−1 vs. 2.33 ± 0.93 s−1, p = 0.002), and late diastolic strain rate (1.78 ± 1.02 s−1 vs. 2.50 ± 0.91 s−1p ≤ 0.001) were significantly lower in patients with typical AFL. Although RA passive emptying fraction was similar among groups (18.9 ± 8.1 vs. 19.5 ± 8.0, p = 0.75), RA active emptying fraction was lower in patients with typical AFL (34.8 ± 12.3 vs. 40.8 ± 12.1, p = 0.02). Conclusions: The reservoir and pump function of the RA is significantly reduced in patients with typical AFL. Prophylactic CTI ablation warrants further study as adjunctive therapy to AF catheter ablation in selected patients with RA dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-391
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Interventional Cardiac Electrophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Atrial flutter
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance
  • Pulmonary vein isolation
  • Right atrium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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