Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common disorder of heart rhythm. Affecting 2.2 million Americans and millions more worldwide, AF is a dangerous and costly epidemic. AF is associated with an increased risk of stroke, premature death and billions of dollars in healthcare expenditures. Traditional treatments of AF, which include medications aimed at rate or rhythm control have been disappointing, leaving most patients in AF and failing to eliminate the risk of stroke. In contrast, advances in surgical and catheter-based therapies offer the chance to cure AF. With more than a decade of experience, surgical treatment of AF is the most effective means of curing this arrhythmia. The classic Maze procedure eliminates AF in more than 90% of patients. A complex but safe operation, the Maze procedure is applied by relatively few surgeons. Recently, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in surgical treatment of AF. Advances in the understanding of the pathogenesis of AF and development of new ablation technologies enable surgeons to perform pulmonary vein ablation and create linear left atrial lesions rapidly and safely. Such procedures, which are generally applied to patients with AF and valvular heart disease, add 15 minutes to operative time and cure AF in approximately 80% of patients. New ablation technologies have been adapted to enable thoracoscopic and minimally invasive surgical AF ablation in patients with isolated AF, extending the possibility of cure to large numbers of patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine