While surgical ablation (SA) for persistent atrial fibrillation (AF) can reduce recurrence of AF, its impact on longitudinal survival and health-care costs remains controversial. This study defines the clinical outcomes and costs associated with SA in patients with prior AF undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).METHODS
A total of 3745 Medicare beneficiaries with prior AF who underwent CABG in 2013 were divided into 2 groups: those with and those without concomitant SA. Risk-adjusted early (0-90 days) and late (91-364 days) postoperative outcomes and inpatient costs were compared.RESULTS
SA was performed in 17% of CABG patients with prior AF. Preoperative characteristics favoured patients with SA: emergent presentation (15% vs 22%), heart failure in the 2 weeks prior to CABG (31% vs 36%), chronic lung disease (27% vs 33%) and renal failure (4% vs 7%) (all P < 0.05). Risk-adjusted operative mortality and perioperative stroke rates were similar in the 2 groups. Risk-adjusted survival was similar through 90 days, but significantly better with SA after 90 days [hazard ratio (HR) = 0.58; P = 0.03]. At 1 year, the risk-adjusted incidence of cardiovascular implantable electronic device implantation was greater with SA (HR = 1.20; P = 0.01). Risk-adjusted costs for the CABG admission (HR = 1.11; P < 0.01) and inpatient care through 1 year (HR = 1.06; P = 0.02) were also greater with SA.CONCLUSIONS
In the US Medicare population, SA was performed in 17% of CABG-AF patients in 2013. Operative risks for mortality and stroke did not increase with SA but costs did. Patients receiving SA, however, had significantly better risk-adjusted late survival.