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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2003 Dec;126(6):2016-21.

The long-term outcome of patients with coronary disease and atrial fibrillation undergoing the Cox maze procedure.

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Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.



A significant number of patients presenting for coronary revascularization have chronic atrial fibrillation. Although the Cox maze III procedure is the gold standard for the surgical treatment of this arrhythmia, few of these patients undergo atrial fibrillation operations at the time of their coronary bypass grafting. This study examined the long-term outcome of patients with ischemic heart disease who underwent the Cox maze procedure at our institution.


From 1990 to 2002, 47 patients undergoing operations for ischemic heart disease underwent a concomitant Cox maze III procedure. All patients underwent coronary bypass grafting, and 7 (15%) patients underwent coronary bypass grafting plus a mitral valve repair. Follow-up was performed by means of mail and telephone questionnaires with both the patients and their cardiologists. All patients who had any history of arrhythmia or who were taking medications had their rhythm documented by electrocardiogram.


The mean age of these patients was 62 +/- 8 years, with a marked male predominance (45 men and 2 women). Twenty-eight (60%) of the patients had paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, and the remainder had persistent arrhythmias. The mean duration of atrial fibrillation was 7.6 +/- 6.5 years. The operative mortality in this series was 2%. Nine (19%) patients required postoperative pacemakers. At last follow-up (mean of 5.7 +/- 3.3 years), 98% of patients were free of atrial fibrillation.


The Cox maze III procedure has a low operative mortality and excellent long-term efficacy in patients with ischemic heart disease. These data suggest a more widespread use of this procedure in these patients.

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