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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2009 Jul;138(1):109-13; discussion 114. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2008.09.080.

Minimally invasive surgical ablation of atrial fibrillation: six-month results.

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Cardiopulmonary Research Science and Technology Institute, Dallas, Tex, USA.



A minimally invasive surgery for treatment of atrial fibrillation was developed with bilateral pulmonary vein isolation, mapping, and ablation of the ganglionic plexi and excision of the left atrial appendage. A prospective multicenter registry was created to evaluate the outcomes.


The procedure was performed through bilateral minithoracotomies with video assistance. It included bilateral pulmonary vein isolation with bipolar radiofrequency with documentation of conduction block, location of ganglionic plexi by high-frequency stimulation, and appropriate ablation and left atrial appendage exclusion/excision. Clinical follow-up at 6 months included monitoring with electrocardiogram, Holter, event monitor, or pacemaker interrogation.


One hundred fourteen patients with 60 (52.6%) paroxysmal, 32 (28.1%) persistent, and 22 (19.3%) long-standing persistent atrial fibrillations were treated. The mean age was 59.5 +/- 10.6 years, and 69.3% were men. The mean follow-up period was 204 +/- 41 days (median 195). There were 2 (1.8%) operative mortalities. At 6-month follow-up, with long-term monitoring, 52/60 (86.7%) patients with paroxysmal fibrillations were in normal sinus rhythm and 43/60 (71.7%) were both in normal sinus rhythm and off antiarrhythmic drugs. The patients with persistent atrial fibrillation had a lower success rate, with 18/32 (56.3%) being in normal sinus rhythm and 46.9% both in normal sinus rhythm and off antiarrhythmic drugs; for long-standing persistent cases, 11/22 (50%) were in normal sinus rhythm and 7/22 (31.9%) were also off antiarrhythmic drugs.


Minimally invasive atrial fibrillation surgery is an effective treatment of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation at 6 months. Continuous event monitoring is necessary to accurately assess treatment results. A more extensive lesion set seems to be required for treatment of persistent atrial fibrillation.

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