Hybrid Surgery

New Technologies and Hybrid Surgery for Atrial Fibrillation

Mark La Meir


The Cox maze III and Cox maze IV procedures are surgical solutions for the treatment of symptomatic stand-alone atrial fibrillation. Despite their proven efficacy, these procedures have not gained widespread acceptance because of the invasiveness, complexity, and technical difficulty. Endocardial pulmonary vein isolation is the cornerstone of percutaneous catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation. It is currently accepted as an invasive therapy, if rhythm control has failed using antiarrhythmic drugs or electrical cardioversions. Pulmonary vein isolation is reported to be effective in 60%–85% of patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation and in 30%–50% of patients with persistent atrial fibrillation. A second or third ablation is often necessary to achieve these results, and complications may occur in up to 6% of patients. Surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation has seen important improvements in the last decade. New technologies have simplified creation of transmural lesions on the beating heart through a less-invasive, thoracoscopic procedure. This allows for pulmonary vein isolation, isolation of the posterior wall, and left atrial appendage exclusion—usually combined with ganglionic plexi evaluation and destruction. Nonethe¬less, it is still uncertain whether these procedures are effective in restoring permanent sinus rhythm since transmurality of a lesion set cannot be guaranteed with current ablation catheters on the beating heart. In an attempt to limit the shortcomings of an endo- or an epicardial technique, a hybrid approach has recently been introduced. This approach is based on a close collaboration between the surgeon and the electrophysiologist, employing a patient-tailored procedure which is adapted to the origin of the patient’s atrial fibrillation and takes into consideration triggers and substrate. Using a mono- or bilateral energy source, a thoracoscopic epicardial approach is combined with a percutaneous endocardial ablation in a single-step or in a sequential-step procedure. This article provides our experience and an overview of the current knowledge in the hybrid treatment of stand-alone atrial fibrillation.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2013;4(3):e0016