Predictive value of atrial fibrillation during the postradiofrequency ablation blanking period

Hugh Calkins, Larry Gache, Diana Frame, Lee Ming Boo, Nader Ghaly, Richard Schilling, Thomas Deering, Mattias Duytschaever, Douglas L. Packer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Recurrent arrhythmia following catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation (AF) may present early, during a standard 3-month blanking period. Early recurrence has been correlated to late recurrence, but the degree to which its absence predicts longer-term success has not been quantified. Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore and quantify the relationship between early and late arrhythmia recurrence, specifically the negative predictive value, that is, the degree to which absence of blanking period recurrence predicts absence of late recurrence. Methods: A systematic literature review and meta-analysis were conducted using statistical methods of a diagnostic test accuracy review. Studies of AF ablation using point-by-point radiofrequency, with repeated monitoring of arrhythmia recurrence including asymptomatic recurrence, and with separate data by AF type, were eligible. Results: Nine studies met the prespecified eligibility criteria. For paroxysmal AF, 89% (confidence interval [CI] 82%–94%) of patients free from early recurrence remained free from late recurrence. The estimate for persistent AF was similar (91%; CI 75%–97%). This finding was robust in sensitivity analyses. Patients with early recurrence had a wider range of likely outcomes with longer-term follow-up. Conclusion: Freedom from AF recurrence during the blanking period is highly predictive of longer-term success in catheter ablation. Clinical trials in this area may be able to leverage these findings to more quickly assess the potential utility of new ablation technologies and methods, for example, by using early surrogate measures of success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-373
Number of pages8
JournalHeart Rhythm
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Catheter ablation
  • Predictive value of tests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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