Topical amiodarone during cardiac surgery: Does epicardial application of amiodarone prevent postoperative atrial fibrillation?

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Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common complication after cardiac surgery. Topical amiodarone on the epicardium may help prevent postoperative AF while avoiding the side effects of its systemic administration. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the all-comer strategy of epicardial amiodarone application for the prevention of postoperative AF.


A retrospective observational study was performed that evaluated the incidence of new-onset AF in a consecutive series of cardiac surgery patients who were treated with either no amiodarone (historical control, n = 100), epicardial application of amiodarone mixed in a topical hydrogel (n = 50), or epicardial application of an amiodarone-soaked sealant patch (n = 50). Perioperative data were compared between the 3 groups, with all patients receiving continuous postoperative telemetry to monitor for new-onset AF.


The cohort consisted of 200 cardiac surgery patients (coronary bypass 82%, valve surgery 24%) who had no history of AF (mean age 71.0 years, 28% female). Among the 3 groups, the incidence of postoperative AF did not significantly differ, with 29 of 100 (29%) patients in the historical control group having new AF, compared with 18 of 50 (36%) in the amiodarone-hydrogel group, and 18 of 50 (36%) in the amiodarone-patch group (P = .56). The results did not differ when the analysis was restricted to coronary bypass patients only (n = 142, 27% vs 38% vs 32%, no-amiodarone vs amiodarone-hydrogel vs amiodarone-patch, respectively, P = .56). In multivariate logistic regression analysis, only older age (P = .001) was significantly associated with new-onset AF, but the use of topical amiodarone was not.


Routine epicardial application of topical amiodarone was not associated with a reduction in the incidence of new-onset postoperative AF in this observational study of older patients, leading us to question its role in contemporary cardiac surgical practice.

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