Aortic fat pad and atrial fibrillation: cardiac lymphatics revisited

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Abstract

The lymphatics of the heart have not generated any broad or sustained interest among clinicians. Few publications on cardiac lymphatics are available, the anatomy is not routinely known and the true role of cardiac lymphatics remains doubtful. One important anatomical concept needing clarification is that of the lymphatic drainage of conduction tissue. The sinoatrial node lymphatic collector and right principal lymphatic trunk are both incorporated into the aortic fat pad of the ascending aorta and are the most frequently damaged lymphatic vessels during cardiac surgery. Thus, preservation of the aortic fat pad and its lymphatic collectors should reduce the incidence of new atrial fibrillation observed in patients after cardiac surgery. This review assesses current knowledge of cardiac lymphatics and shows their possible role in triggering arrhythmias in the postoperative period.

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