Biatrial ablation vs. left atrial concomitant surgical ablation for treatment of atrial fibrillation: a meta-analysis

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Surgical ablation performed concomitantly with cardiac surgery has emerged as an effective curative strategy for atrial fibrillation (AF). Left atrial (LA) lesion sets for ablation have been suggested to reduce procedural times and post-surgical bradycardia compared with biatrial (BA) lesions. Given the inconclusive literature regarding BA vs. LA ablation, the present meta-analysis sought to assess the current evidence.

Methods and results

Electronic searches were performed using six databases from their inception to December 2013, identifying all relevant randomized trials and observational studies comparing BA vs. LA surgical ablation AF patients undertaking cardiac surgery. In 10 included studies, 2225 patient results were available for analysis to compare BA (n = 888) vs. LA (n = 1337) ablation. Sinus rhythm prevalence was higher in the BA cohort compared with the LA cohort at 6-month and 12-month follow-up, but similar beyond 1 year. Permanent pacemaker implantations were higher in the BA cohort, but 30-day and late mortality, neurological events, and reoperation for bleeding were similar between BA and LA groups.


Biatrial and LA ablations produced comparable 30-day and late mortality but LA was associated with significantly reduced permanent pacemaker implantation rates. Biatrial ablation appeared to be more efficacious than LA ablation in achieving SR at 1 year, but this difference was not maintained beyond 1 year. Trends appear to be driven by the preferential selection of long-standing and persistent AF patients for the BA approach. Future randomized studies of adequate follow-up are required to validate risks and benefits of BA vs. LA surgical ablation.

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