Additional Ganglion Plexus Ablation During Thoracoscopic Surgical Ablation of Advanced Atrial Fibrillation: Intermediate Follow-Up of the AFACT Study

Wouter R. Berger, Jolien Neefs, Nicoline W. E. van den Berg, S. bastien P. J. Krul, Elise M. van Praag, Femke R. Piersma, Jonas S. S. G. de Jong, Wim-Jan P. van Boven, Antoine H. G. Driessen, Joris R. de Groot

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Objectives: The authors report the 2-year follow-up results of the AFACT (Atrial Fibrillation Ablation and Autonomic Modulation via Thoracoscopic Surgery) study. Background: The AFACT study randomized patients with advanced atrial fibrillation (AF) to thoracoscopic AF ablation with or without additional ganglion plexus (GP) ablation. At 1 year, there was no difference in AF freedom between the groups, but autonomic modification may exert beneficial effects during longer follow-up. Methods: Patients underwent thoracoscopic pulmonary vein isolation, with additional left atrial lines in persistent AF patients, and were randomized 1:1 to ablation of the 4 major GP and Marshall ligament or no GP ablation (control). Patients were followed every 3 months up to 18 months and at 24 months. After an initial 3-month blanking period, all antiarrhythmic drugs were discontinued. Results: The authors randomized 240 patients (age 59 ± 8 years, 73% men, 68% enlarged left atrium, 60% persistent AF), of whom 228 patients (95%) completed follow-up. Freedom of any atrial tachyarrhythmia did not differ significantly between the GP group (55.6%) and control group (56.1%) (p = 0.91), with no difference in paroxysmal (p = 0.60) or persistent AF patients (p = 0.88). Documented AF recurrences were similar between treatment arms: 11.8% (GP) versus 11.0% (control) had >3 recurrences/year (p = 0.82). More persistent AF patients (17.0%) than paroxysmal (3.2%) had >3 recurrences per year (p < 0.01). Despite this, 78% of patients were off antiarrhythmic drugs after 2 years. No procedural-related complications occurred in the second year. Conclusions: Additional GP ablation during thoracoscopic surgery for advanced AF does not affect freedom of AF recurrence. As GP ablation is associated with more major procedural complications, it should not routinely be performed. (Atrial Fibrillation Ablation and Autonomic Modulation via Thorascopic Surgery [AFACT]; NCT01091389)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-353
JournalJACC: Clinical Electrophysiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

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