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Antiarrhythmic surgery for treatment of atrial fibrillation--new concepts.

  • Hindricks, G
  • Mohr, F W
  • Autschbach, R
  • Kottkamp, H
Published Article
The Thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon
Publication Date
Aug 01, 1999
47 Suppl 3
PMID: 10520770


Curative treatment of atrial fibrillation is one of the main challenges of todays electrophysiology. The ideal treatment strategy should be effective, safe, and easy to apply to allow a widespread use. In addition, curative treatment should not only aim on the restoration of sinus rhythm but also restore mechanical atrial function to improve hemodynamics thereby avoiding anticoagulation. With respect to percutaneous catheter ablation no treatment concept with proven efficiency to cure chronic permanent atrial fibrillation is currently available. Surgical techniques such as the Corridor operation and the left atrial isolation procedure have been shown to effectively store sinus rhythm but these procedures do not restore biatrial transport function. Cox's Maze procedure is highly effective, however, it is an extensive and very time consuming technique which precludes the widespread application of this operation. Thus, new intraoperative treatment concepts are currently under intense clinical investigation. Most new concepts aim on the application of contiguous radiofrequency-induced lesion lines in the atria. Some of the new treatment strategies are based on the replacement of the surgical incisions of the Maze procedure using inrtraoperative radiofrequency coagulation thereby preventing functional determined reentrant circuits. Other new concepts aim on the induction of contiguous atrial lesion lines to eliminate anatomical determined atrial reentrant circuits. The main advantage of these new concepts when compared to the Maze procedure is a significantly shorter treatment time of approximately 20 minutes. In addition, some treatment strategies can also be applied in conjunction with minimally invasive cardiac surgery. The initial results reported with application of new treatment concepts indicate that approximately 60-80% of patients operated on can be cured from atrial fibrillation. Randomised studies with these new treatment strategies are necessary to validate the results and to outline which treatment concept may prove superior to others. Based on the progress made, it can be expected that intraoperative ablation of chronic permanent atrial fibrillation will become an important curative treatment strategy.

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