Current Use of Prophylactic Strategies for Postoperative Atrial Fibrillation: A Survey of Canadian Cardiac Surgeons

Joel Price, Rebecca Tee, Buu Khanh Lam, Paul Hendry, Martin S. Green, Fraser D. Rubens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Evidence from multiple trials demonstrates the efficacy of prophylactic β-blocker, amiodarone, and corticosteroid administration in reducing the incidence of postoperative atrial fibrillation. Despite this information, these interventions remain infrequently or inappropriately utilized. This study was designed to assess the frequency with which these prophylactic strategies are currently being used and to identify concerns and barriers to more widespread application. Methods: A link to an online survey was e-mailed to all practicing cardiac surgeons in Canada. Each surgeon was given a unique log-in identification number to complete the survey online through a secure web page. Results: Surveys were sent to 166 surgeons; 119 completed surveys (72%) were returned. Only 58% of respondents routinely use β-blockade for prophylaxis. For nonusers, 44% are unconvinced of the evidence for this practice. The routine use of amiodarone among surgeons was 19%. Of the remainder, 43% cited a perceived increased risk of complications as the reason for not using this therapy. An additional 29% considered the therapy was excessively complicated or time consuming. Corticosteroids were routinely used by only one surgeon. Major barriers to use of steroids were unconvincing evidence (76%), a perceived increased risk of wound infection (38%), and hyperglycemia (30%). Conclusions: Despite level 1 evidence, the use of β-blockers, amiodarone, and corticosteroids for prophylaxis of atrial fibrillation among Canadian surgeons remains less than expected. The results of this survey support the need for further clinical trials with robust and clinically relevant outcomes that may further influence surgeons to adopt this practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-110
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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