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Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2011 Jul;40(1):61-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcts.2010.11.008. Epub 2011 Jan 7.

Advanced left-atrial fibrosis is associated with unsuccessful maze operation for valvular atrial fibrillation.

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Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Sakurabashi Watanabe Hospital, Osaka, Japan.



Atrial dilatation and fibrosis are considered to be important factors in the occurrence and maintenance of atrial fibrillation (AF). However, the relationship between those structural remodeling and postoperative sinus conversions after a maze operation has been rarely studied. The purpose of this study was to determine whether pathological evaluation of atrial tissues was useful for predicting an unsuccessful maze operation in patients with valvular AF.


Between March 2006 and June 2007, left-atrial tissues in the posterior wall and right-atrial appendage were obtained from 47 consecutive patients (24 patients with chronic AF, and 23 with sinus rhythm) undergoing mitral valve surgery (MVS). A concomitant maze operation was performed for all patients with chronic AF. Atrial cell diameters were measured using hematoxylin and eosin staining, and quantitative assessment of atrial fibrosis was performed with Masson trichrome staining using an image analyzer (Image Processor for Analytical Pathology, Sumika Technoservice Co., Hyogo, Japan).


Successful MVS was performed for all patients and there were no complications associated with tissue sampling. Patients with chronic AF had more advanced histological features in both atria as compared with those with sinus rhythm. Sixteen of 24 patients, who underwent a maze operation, had successfully restored sinus rhythm (successful maze group), while that in the remaining eight was not restored (unsuccessful maze group). Patients in the unsuccessful maze group had a larger left-atrial dimension and cardiothoracic ratio as compared with those in the successful group, whereas the duration of AF was not significantly different. Patients in the unsuccessful maze group also had greater hypertrophy of cardiomyocytes and more extensive intercellular fibrosis in the left atrium, while there were no differences for right-atrial pathological features between the groups. Multivariate logistic analysis confirmed that a larger amount of left-atrial fibrosis (>15%) was significantly associated with an unsuccessful maze operation.


The present results suggested that advanced fibrosis in the left atrium, but not in the right atrium, might be significantly associated with an unsuccessful maze operation in patients with valvular AF.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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