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Can J Cardiol. 2014 Jun;30(6):590-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2014.02.001. Epub 2014 Feb 12.

Atrial fibrillation therapies: lest we forget surgery.

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  • 1Division of Cardiac Surgery, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
  • 2Division of Cardiac Surgery, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Electronic address:


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a disease that causes a significant burden in a patient's life. It is a known risk factor for heart failure, stroke, and premature death. The classic therapeutic strategies include rate control, rhythm control, and prevention of stroke. Pharmacological rhythm control with antiarrhythmic drugs can only be achieved 50% of the time while simultaneously subjecting patients to deleterious adverse reactions. With recent advances in catheter ablation procedures, rhythm control can be safely attained anywhere from 57%-80% of the time, depending on the number of repeat catheter ablation procedures that are performed and concomitant use of antiarrhythmic drugs. The Cox-Maze procedure is a technically challenging cut-and-sew atrial lesion set with associated morbidity, yet is still considered the gold standard for rhythm control. Fortunately, this procedure has been modified in efforts to improve the safety profile (shorter cross clamp and cardiopulmonary bypass time), to simplify lesion set creation with newer energy sources, and to perform this operation in a minimally invasive setting. Minimally invasive surgical AF ablation techniques have excellent safety profiles and can achieve rhythm control in up to 90% of patients. In contrast, patients undergoing open heart surgery can undergo either concomitant endocardial or epicardial AF ablation procedures without jeopardizing the surgery along with success rates from 60% to 88%. Thus, there has been an increase in current surgical options for treating AF because of novel approaches and energy sources which yield effective long-term results in patient care and minimize perioperative complications and thereby optimize the risk/benefit ratio profile.

Copyright © 2014 Canadian Cardiovascular Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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