Is pulmonary vein isolation still the cornerstone in atrial fibrillation ablation?

T. Jared Bunch, Michael J. Cutler


Radiofrequency catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF) has become a frequently used therapy after failure of at least one antiarrhythmic drug. The cornerstone of AF ablation has been durable pulmonary vein isolation. However, understanding the positive and negative outcomes of catheter ablation of AF is severely limited by diverse ablation methodologies that do not seem to result in durable pulmonary vein isolation. Without durable pulmonary isolation ablation, it is unclear if ablation strategies need to be modified to include extrapulmonary vein ablation targets in combination with pulmonary vein isolation or alone to improve longterm procedural success rates. The marked discrepancy between AF ablation procedure success rates and actual long-term pulmonary vein isolation rates does suggest that targeting other mechanisms can be considered to achieve similar or better results when compared to pulmonary vein isolation alone.