Surgical ablation for the treatment of atrial fibrillation in different patient populations : A study of clinical outcomes including rhythm, quality of life, atrial function and safety

Sammanfattning: Patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) have markedly reduced quality of life (QoL) and catheter ablation has become a useful tool in the rhythm control therapy. However, because of the poor outcome for patients with persistent AF, new surgical ablation strategies for rhythm control are emerging.The aims of this thesis were to evaluate QoL, the main indication for rhythm control, after three different types of surgical ablation for AF, two stand-alone epicardial AF ablation procedures and one concomitant procedure during mitral valve surgery (MVS), and to perform a long-term follow-up of one of the techniques with regard to rhythm outcome, left atrial function, exercise capacity and safety.As the first center in the Nordic countries to adopt the video-assisted epicardial pulmonary vein isolation and ganglionated plexi ablation combined with left atrial appendage excision (LAA), the  freedom from AF at one year follow-up was found to be 71% and associated with improved exercise capacity, QoL and symptoms as well as preserved left atrial function and size. The most common complication was bleeding events (14%). After 10 years, the improved symptoms and QoL remained, reaching comparable levels of the general Swedish population, despite a marked decline in the rate of freedom from AF (36%). 4 strokes appeared during follow-up despite LAA excision in 3 of these patients.In order to improve the rhythm outcome for patients with longstanding persistent AF a box-lesion was added to the procedure. At one year follow-up, both symptoms and QoL improved and was indistinguishable from those in the Swedish general population.Finally, concomitant AF ablation during MVS did not improve QoL compared to MVS alone in a double blinded randomized controlled trial. Moreover, no difference was seen between patients in AF or sinus rhythm at one year follow-up, irrespective of the allocated therapy, indicating that their preoperative symptoms were mainly related to their valve disease.In conclusion, the stand-alone procedures using surgical ablation was found to be effective but at the expense of procedural complications. In contrast, the concomitant surgical AF ablation did not improve QoL, a finding that raises concerns regarding current recommendations for this procedure.