Background—Recent studies have demonstrated conflicting mechanisms underlying atrial fibrillation (AF), with the spatial resolution of data often cited as a potential reason for the disagreement. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the variation in spatial resolution of mapping may lead to misinterpretation of the underlying mechanism in persistent AF.
Methods and Results—Simulations of rotors and focal sources were performed to estimate the minimum number of recording points required to correctly identify the underlying AF mechanism. The effects of different data types (action potentials and unipolar or bipolar electrograms) and rotor stability on resolution requirements were investigated. We also determined the ability of clinically used endocardial catheters to identify AF mechanisms using clinically recorded and simulated data. The spatial resolution required for correct identification of rotors and focal sources is a linear function of spatial wavelength (the distance between wavefronts) of the arrhythmia. Rotor localization errors are larger for electrogram data than for action potential data. Stationary rotors are more reliably identified compared with meandering trajectories, for any given spatial resolution. All clinical high-resolution multipolar catheters are of sufficient resolution to accurately detect and track rotors when placed over the rotor core although the low-resolution basket catheter is prone to false detections and may incorrectly identify rotors that are not present.
Conclusions—The spatial resolution of AF data can significantly affect the interpretation of the underlying AF mechanism. Therefore, the interpretation of human AF data must be taken in the context of the spatial resolution of the recordings.