AIMS: Pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) can be considered for treatment of symptomatic atrial fibrillation (AF). Nowadays, in addition to transcatheter ablation, thoracoscopic surgical PVI is available. The aim of this study is to compare clinical outcome of surgical with transcatheter PVI as first invasive treatment strategy of AF.\r
METHODS AND RESULTS: From June 2009 to November 2011, 33 patients underwent minimally invasive surgical PVI, and were matched (1:2 fashion) retrospectively according to age, sex, and AF type, with 66 patients who underwent transcatheter PVI. Success was defined as freedom from atrial arrhythmias on 24 h Holter monitoring without use of anti-arrhythmic drugs (AADs) at 1 year. Mean age was 52 ± 10 years, 82% were male. Paroxysmal AF was present in 76 patients (77%), persistent AF in 23 (23%) patients. None underwent prior ablations, and failed on 1.2 ± 0.6 AADs. At 12 months, complete freedom from atrial arrhythmias without AADs in the surgical PVI group was 88% compared with 41% in the transcatheter PVI group (P < 0.001). Freedom from atrial arrhythmias with AADs was 91 vs. 62%, in the surgical vs. transcatheter PVI group, respectively (P = 0.002). Complications occurred in seven (21%) surgical PVI patients, and three (5%) transcatheter PVI patients (P = 0.015).\r
CONCLUSION: In present matched study comparing a surgical with transcatheter PVI treatment strategy in symptomatic AF patients failed on AADs, but without prior ablations, a surgical PVI strategy was more effective to prevent recurrence of atrial arrhythmias, than a transcatheter PVI treatment strategy. However, complications were more frequent with surgical PVI.
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