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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2019 Sep 10. pii: S0022-5223(19)31755-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2019.07.131. [Epub ahead of print]

Surgical ablation of atrial fibrillation concomitant to coronary-artery bypass grafting provides cost-effective mortality reduction.

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Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WVa. Electronic address:
Health Sciences West, Scarsdale, NY; Braid-Forbes Health Research, Silver Spring, Md.
Braid-Forbes Health Research, Silver Spring, Md.
Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WVa.



Data on the longitudinal impact of surgical ablation (SA) for atrial fibrillation (AF) in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) remain limited. This study examined 2-year risk-adjusted mortality and total hospital costs in Medicare beneficiaries with AF requiring CABG with or without SA.


CABG was performed in 3745 Medicare beneficiaries with AF in 2013, with concomitant SA in 17% (626 of 3745). Risk-adjusted mortality, morbidity, and cost during the first 2 postoperative years for patients with SA and those without SA were compared. A piecewise Cox proportional hazard model (0-90 days and 91-729 days) was used to risk-adjust mortality.


Compared with the no SA group, the SA group had lower rates of heart failure before surgery (31% vs 36%), chronic lung disease (27% vs 33%), renal failure (4% vs 7%), and urgent or emergent presentation (34% vs 49%) (all P < .05). Risk-adjusted index admission costs were higher with SA (rate ratio [RR], 1.11; P < .01), as were readmissions for AF (hazard ratio [HR], 1.14; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.00-1.29; P = .04) and pacemaker/defibrillator implantation (HR, 1.37; 95%, 1.08-1.74; P = .01). Risk-adjusted inpatient days and inpatient costs were similar after 2 years (RR, 0.97; P = .31 and RR = 1.04; P = .17, respectively); however, the risk-adjusted hazard for late mortality (91-729 days) was significantly lower with SA (HR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.52-0.97; P = .03).


In patients with AF requiring CABG, SA was associated with a 29% lower risk-adjusted hazard for late mortality. Index hospital costs were higher with SA, but total inpatient costs were not different in the 2 groups after 2 years. SA appears to be a cost-effective intervention to enhance late 2-year survival in patients with AF undergoing CABG.


atrial fibrillation; coronary artery bypass grafting; surgical ablation

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