Thoracoscopic ablation delays progression from paroxysmal to persistent atrial fibrillation

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2021 Apr 19;S0022-5223(21)00694-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2021.03.114. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Objective: The study objective was to determine whether mini-invasive transthoracoscopic atrial fibrillation ablation can delay the progression of atrial fibrillation from paroxysmal to persistent.

Methods: Patients aged 18 to 80 years with paroxysmal nonvalvular atrial fibrillation and a history of stroke or systemic thromboembolism were consecutively enrolled from September 2014 to June 2019. In the treatment group, patients underwent transthoracoscopic atrial fibrillation ablation plus left atrial appendage excision (atrial fibrillation ablation plus left atrial appendage excision group). Patients unwilling to receive surgical intervention were treated with antiarrhythmic drugs and oral anticoagulants and recruited as a control group (atrial fibrillation plus antiarrhythmic drugs group). The primary end point was the progression of atrial fibrillation from paroxysmal to persistent.

Results: This study included 49 patients in the atrial fibrillation plus antiarrhythmic drugs group (29 men) and 77 patients in the atrial fibrillation ablation plus left atrial appendage excision group (48 men). In the atrial fibrillation ablation plus left atrial appendage excision group, after a median follow-up of 951 days (interquartile range, 529-1366 days), 8 patients (10.4%) progressed to persistent atrial fibrillation. In the atrial fibrillation plus antiarrhythmic drugs group, after a median follow-up of 835 days (interquartile range, 548-1214 days), 14 patients (28.6%) progressed to persistent atrial fibrillation. The atrial fibrillation ablation plus left atrial appendage excision group had a significantly lower incidence of atrial fibrillation progression than the atrial fibrillation plus antiarrhythmic drugs group during follow-up (3.9 vs 12.3 per 100 person-years, log-rank 8.6, P = .003).

Conclusions: Patients with paroxysmal nonvalvular atrial fibrillation who chose to undergo transthoracoscopic atrial fibrillation ablation had a lower incidence of progression to persistent atrial fibrillation than patients who chose conservative therapy. This strategy might be especially suitable for patients with paroxysmal nonvalvular atrial fibrillation at high risk of stroke and high risk of bleeding.

Keywords: antiarrhythmic drugs; paroxysmal atrial fibrillation; progression; transthoracoscopic ablation.