Perspective and practice of surgical atrial fibrillation ablation: an international survey of cardiac surgeons Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • AIMS: Despite recommendations stating that surgical atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation is reasonable for patients with AF undergoing cardiac surgery for other indications, the clinical impact of this procedure remains unclear. We aimed to describe surgeons' practices and perceptions of this procedure. METHODS AND RESULTS: We built a self-administered survey in collaboration with content and methodology experts. We surveyed 268 cardiac surgeons from 80 centres in 18 countries. The response rate was 76% (n = 204/276), 49% from North America, 39% Europe, and 12% other regions. Respondents performed a median 10 [interquartile range (IQR) 4-30] AF ablation procedures/year, with marked variation in proportions of patients with AF considered for ablation (median 25%, IQR 10-61). 94% and 80% of surgeons respectively, thought symptomatic and asymptomatic patients benefit from ablation. Surgeons estimated the added major complication rate of concomitant AF ablation at 16% [median (IQR) 7-25]. Of participating surgeons, 61% believed that evidence supported surgical AF ablation reducing the incidence of thrombo-embolic complications, and 46% modified anticoagulation decision-making based on whether they performed AF ablation. During coronary artery bypass grafting, isolated pulmonary vein isolation was the most commonly performed lesion set (70%), whereas complete left atrial ablation (46%) and biatrial ablation (44%) were favoured with valve surgery. CONCLUSION: In a multinational group of academic surgeons, surgical AF ablation utilization appears variable, and average case volumes are low. Despite no evidence to that effect, the majority believe that ablation reduces AF-related thrombo-embolic risk of patients. Reported practice patterns suggest clinical equipoise; a definitive trial appears feasible based on respondent willingness to participate.

publication date

  • March 1, 2019