Ablation of atrial fibrillation: Comparison of catheter-based techniques and the cox-maze III operation

John M. Stulak, Joseph A. Dearani, Thoralf M. Sundt, Richard C. Daly, Hartzell V. Schaff

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31 Scopus citations


Background: Catheter-based ablation is often recommended for treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF), but there are no data that directly compare late results to those of the Cox-Maze procedure. Although catheter ablation avoids operation, lack of reliable transmurality may reduce effectiveness. We compared clinical outcomes of the cut-and-sew Cox-Maze procedure with catheter ablation. Methods: Between January 1993 and October 2007, 97 patients aged 25 to 80 years underwent an isolated cut-and-sew Cox-Maze procedure. Patients were matched 1:2 according to age, sex, and AF type, with 194 patients undergoing catheter-based ablation for lone AF. Results: At last follow-up, 82% of patients who underwent the Cox-Maze procedure were free of AF and had stopped taking antiarrhythmic medications compared with 55% of patients who underwent ablation (p < 0.001). When analyzed as a time-related event, freedom from recurrent AF was 87% 5 years after the Cox-Maze procedure compared with 28% after catheter ablation (p < 0.001). Late warfarin anticoagulation was required in 12% of patients who underwent the Cox-Maze procedure compared with 55% of patients who underwent ablation (p < 0.001), and use of antiarrhythmic medications during follow-up was significantly higher in patients who underwent ablation (68% versus 15%, p < 0.001). Forty-one patients (24%) required repeated ablation procedure and 9 required a second repeated ablation. Conclusions: Compared with catheter-based ablation, the Cox-Maze procedure results in greater freedom from AF and less medical treatment with antiarrhythmic drugs and warfarin anticoagulation during follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1882-1889
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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