In order to improve the procedural success and long-term outcomes of catheter ablation techniques for atrial fibrillation (AF), an important unfulfilled requirement is to create durable electrophysiologically complete lesions. Measurement of contact force (CF) between the catheter tip and the target tissue can guide physicians to optimise both mapping and ablation procedures. Contact force can affect lesion size and clinical outcomes following catheter ablation of AF. Force sensing technologies have matured since their advent several years ago, and now allow the direct measurement of CF between the catheter tip and the target myocardium in real time. In order to obtain complete durable lesions, catheter tip spatial stability and stable contact force are important. Suboptimal energy delivery, lesion density/ contiguity and/or excessive wall thickness of the pulmonary vein-left atrial (PV-LA) junction may result in conduction recovery at these sites. Lesion assessment tools may help predict and localise electrical weak points resulting in conduction recovery during and after ablation. There is increasing clinical evidence to show that optimal use of CF sensing during ablation can reduce acute PV re-conduction, although prospective randomised studies are desirable to confirm long-term favourable clinical outcomes. In combination with optimised lesion assessment tools, contact force sensing technology has the potential to become the standard of care for all patients undergoing AF catheter ablation.
Arrhythmia & Electrophysiology Review 2017;6(2):75–9.