A new era in the surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation: The impact of ablation technology and lesion set on procedural efficacy

Spencer J. Melby, Andreas Zierer, Marci S. Bailey, James L. Cox, Jennifer S. Lawton, Nabil Munfakh, Traves D. Crabtree, Nader Moazami, Charles B. Huddleston, Marc R. Moon, Ralph J. Damiano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: While the Cox-Maze procedure remains the gold standard for the surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF), the use of ablation technology has revolutionized the field. To simplify the procedure, our group has replaced most of the incisions with bipolar radiofrequency ablation lines. The purpose of this study was to examine results using bipolar radiofrequency in 130 patients undergoing a full Cox-Maze procedure, a limited Cox-Maze procedure, or pulmonary vein isolation alone. METHODS: A retrospective review was performed of patients who underwent a Cox-Maze procedure (n = 100), utilizing bipolar radiofrequency ablation, a limited Cox-Maze procedure (n = 7), or pulmonary vein isolation alone (n = 23). Follow-up was available on 129 of 130 patients (99%). RESULTS: Pulmonary vein isolation was confirmed by intraoperative pacing in all patients. Cross-clamp time in the lone Cox-Maze procedure patients was 44 ± 21 minutes, and 104 ± 42 minutes for the Cox-Maze procedure with a concomitant procedure, which was shortened considerably from our traditional cut-and-sew Cox-Maze procedure times (P < 0.05). There were 4 postoperative deaths in the Cox-Maze procedure group and 1 in the pulmonary vein isolation group. The mean follow-up was 13 ± 10, 23 ± 15, and 9 ± 10 months for the Cox-Maze IV, the pulmonary vein isolation, and the limited Cox-Maze procedure groups, respectively. At last follow-up, freedom from AF was 90% (85 of 94), 86% (6 of 7), and 59% (10 of 17) in the in the Cox-Maze procedure group, limited Cox-Maze procedure group, and pulmonary vein isolation alone group, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The use of bipolar radiofrequency ablation to replace Cox-Maze incisions was safe and effective at controlling AF. Pulmonary vein isolation alone was much less effective, and should be used cautiously in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-590
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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