Ablation of atrial fibrillation during coronary artery bypass grafting: Late outcomes in a Medicare population

S. Chris Malaisrie*, Patrick M. McCarthy, Jane Kruse, Roland A. Matsouaka, Andrei Churyla, Maria V. Grau-Sepulveda, Daniel J. Friedman, J. Matthew Brennan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: This study compares outcomes of patients with preoperative atrial fibrillation undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) with or without concomitant atrial fibrillation ablation in a nationally representative Medicare cohort. Objectives: This study examined early and late outcomes in CABG patients with a preoperative history of atrial fibrillation to determine the correlation between surgical atrial fibrillation ablation to mortality and stroke or systemic embolization. Methods: In the Medicare-linked Society of Thoracic Surgeons database, 361,138 patients underwent isolated CABG from 2006 to 2013; 34,600 (9.6%) had preoperative atrial fibrillation; 10,541 (30.5%) were treated with surgical ablation (ablation group), and 23,059 were not (no ablation group). Propensity score matching was performed using a hierarchical mixed model. Long-term survival was summarized using Kaplan-Meier curves and Cox regression models with robust variance estimation. The stroke or systemic embolization incidence was modeled using the Fine-Gray model. Median follow-up was 4 years. Results: Long-term mortality in propensity score-matched CABG patients (mean age 74 years; Society of Thoracic Surgeons risk score, 2.25) receiving ablation versus no ablation was similar (log-rank P =.30). Stroke or systemic embolization occurred in 2.2% versus 2.1% at 30 days and 9.9% versus 12.0% at 5 years (Gray P =.0091). Landmark analysis from 2 to 5 years showed lower mortality (hazard ratio, 0.89; 95% confidence interval 0.82-0.97; P =.0358) and lower risk of stroke or systemic embolization (hazard ratio, 0.73; 95% confidence interval, 0.61-0.87; P =.0006) in the ablation group. Conclusions: Concomitant ablation in CABG patients with preoperative atrial fibrillation is associated with lower stroke or systemic embolization and mortality in patients who survive more than 2 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1251-1261.e1
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • ablation
  • atrial fibrillation
  • coronary artery bypass grafting
  • maze

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Surgery


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