Association of Surgical Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion With Subsequent Stroke and Mortality Among Patients Undergoing Cardiac Surgery

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Surgical occlusion of the left atrial appendage (LAAO) may be performed during concurrent cardiac surgery. However, few data exist on the association of LAAO with long-term risk of stroke, and some evidence suggests that this procedure may be associated with subsequent development of atrial fibrillation (AF).


To evaluate the association of surgical LAAO performed during cardiac surgery with risk of stroke, mortality, and development of subsequent AF.

Design, Setting, and Participants

Retrospective cohort study using a large US administrative database that contains data from adult patients (≥18 years) with private insurance or Medicare Advantage who underwent coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) or valve surgery between January 1, 2009, and March 30, 2017, with final follow-up on March 31, 2017. One-to-one propensity score matching was used to balance patients on 76 dimensions to compare those with vs without LAAO, stratified by history of prior AF at the time of surgery.


Surgical LAAO vs no surgical LAAO during cardiac surgery.

Main Outcomes and Measures

The primary outcomes were stroke (ie, ischemic stroke or systemic embolism) and all-cause mortality. The secondary outcomes were postoperative AF (AF within 30 days after surgery among patients without prior AF) and long-term AF-related health utilization (event rates of outpatient visits and hospitalizations).


Among 75 782 patients who underwent cardiac surgery (mean age, 66.0 [SD, 11.2] years; 2 2091 [29.2%] women, 25 721 [33.9%] with preexisting AF), 4374 (5.8%) underwent concurrent LAAO, and mean follow-up was 2.1 (SD, 1.9) years. In the 8590 propensity score–matched patients, LAAO was associated with a reduced risk of stroke (1.14 vs 1.59 events per 100 person-years; hazard ratio [HR], 0.73 [95% CI, 0.56-0.96]; P = .03) and mortality (3.01 vs 4.30 events per 100 person-years; HR, 0.71 [95% CI, 0.60-0.84]; P < .001). LAAO was associated with higher rates of AF-related outpatient visits (11.96 vs 10.26 events per person-year; absolute difference, 1.70 [95% CI, 1.60-1.80] events per person-year; rate ratio, 1.17 [95% CI, 1.10-1.24]; P < .001) and hospitalizations (0.36 vs 0.32 event per person-year; absolute difference, 0.04 [95% CI, 0.02-0.06] event per person-year; rate ratio, 1.13 [95% CI, 1.05-1.21]; P = .002). In patients with prior AF (6438/8590 [74.9%]) with vs without LAAO, risk of stroke was 1.11 vs 1.71 events per 100 person-years (HR, 0.68 [95% CI, 0.50-0.92]; P = .01) and risk of mortality was 3.22 vs 4.93 events per 100 person-years (HR, 0.67 [95% CI, 0.56-0.80]; P < .001), respectively. In patients without prior AF (2152/8590 [25.1%]) with vs without LAAO, risk of stroke was 1.23 vs 1.26 events per 100 person-years (HR, 0.95 [95% CI, 0.54-1.68]), risk of mortality was 2.30 vs 2.49 events per 100 person-years (HR, 0.92 [95% CI, 0.61-1.37]), and risk of postoperative AF was 27.7% vs 20.2% events per 100 person-years (HR, 1.46 [95% CI, 1.22-1.73]; P < .001). The interaction term between prior AF and LAAO was not significant (P = .29 for stroke and P = .16 for mortality).

Conclusions and Relevance

Among patients undergoing cardiac surgery, concurrent surgical LAAO, compared with no surgical LAAO, was associated with reduced risk of subsequent stroke and all-cause mortality. Further research, including from randomized clinical trials, is needed to more definitively determine the role of surgical LAAO.

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