Superiority of cut-and-sew technique for the Cox maze procedure: Comparison with radiofrequency ablation

John M. Stulak, Joseph A. Dearani, Thoralf M. Sundt, Richard C. Daly, Christopher G.A. McGregor, Kenton J. Zehr, Hartzell V. Schaff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Objective: Although radiofrequency ablation is increasingly used to create the atrial lesions of the Cox maze procedure, its effectiveness in ablating atrial fibrillation compared with the standard cut-and-sew method is not known. We compare the freedom from atrial fibrillation in patients undergoing both methods with identical lesion sets. Methods: Radiofrequency ablation was used to create full Cox maze lesions in 56 patients between January 2002 and February 2005; these patients were matched with those who underwent the standard cut-and-sew method. Matched variables were gender (33 male, 23 female, both), age (67.5 vs 67.2 years), New York Heart Association class (mean 2.28 vs 1.96), atrial fibrillation type (37 paroxysmal, 19 continuous, both), and concomitant mitral valve surgery (37 in both). Hypertension, preoperative left atrial size, and preoperative duration of atrial fibrillation were similar between groups. Results: When compared with matched controls, fewer patients undergoing radiofrequency ablation were free from atrial fibrillation at dismissal (63% vs 88%; P = .0039) and at last follow-up (62% vs 92%; P = .016). According to logistic regression for matched pairs, patients undergoing radiofrequency ablation were 4.5 times more likely to be in atrial fibrillation at dismissal (95% confidence intervals [CI], 1.8, 10.9) and 5 times more likely to be in atrial fibrillation at follow-up (95% CI, 1.4, 17.3). No other covariate was associated with atrial fibrillation status at hospital dismissal or follow-up. Conclusion: Creating Cox maze lesions with radiofrequency ablation is associated with less freedom from atrial fibrillation both early and late postoperatively. Because transmurality can be assured, the standard cut-and-sew Cox maze procedure remains the gold standard for the surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1022-1027
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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