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Long-term results of the corridor operation for atrial fibrillation.
  1. N. M. van Hemel,
  2. J. J. Defauw,
  3. J. H. Kingma,
  4. W. Jaarsma,
  5. F. E. Vermeulen,
  6. J. M. de Bakker,
  7. G. M. Guiraudon
  1. Department of Cardiology, St Antonius Hospital, Nieuwegein, Netherlands.


    OBJECTIVE--To investigate the long-term results of the corridor operation in the treatment of symptomatic atrial fibrillation refractory to drug treatment. BACKGROUND--The corridor operation is designed to isolate from the left and right atrium a conduit of atrial tissue connecting the sinus node area with the atrioventricular node region in order to preserve physiological ventricular drive. The excluded atria can fibrillate without affecting the ventricular rhythm. This surgical method offers an alternative treatment when atrial fibrillation becomes refractory to drug treatment. PATIENTS--From 1987 to 1993, 36 patients with drug refractory symptomatic paroxysmal atrial fibrillation underwent surgery. The in hospital rhythm was followed thereafter by continuous rhythm monitoring and with epicardial electrograms. After discharge Holter recording and stress testing were regularly carried out to evaluate the sinus node function and to detect arrhythmias; whereas Doppler echocardiography was used to measure atrial contraction and size. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Maintained absence of atrial fibrillation without drug treatment after operation; preservation of normal chronotropic response in the sinus node. RESULTS--The corridor procedure was successful in 31 (86%) of the 36 patients. After a mean (SD) follow up of 41 (16) months 25 (69%) of the 36 patients were free of arrhythmias without taking drugs (mean (SE) actuarial freedom at four years 72 (9)%)). Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation recurred in three patients; paroxysmal atrial flutter (two patients) and atrial tachycardia (one patient) developed in the corridor in three others. Among the 31 patients in whom the operation was successful sinus node function at rest and during exercise remained undisturbed in 26 and 25 patients respectively (mean (SE) actuarial freedom of sinus node dysfunction at four years (81(7)%)). Pacemakers were needed in five (16%) of the 31 patients for insufficient sinus node rhythm at rest only. Doppler echocardiography showed maintenance of right atrial contribution to right ventricle filling in 26 of the 31 patients after operation in contrast to the left atrium, which never showed such contribution. His bundle ablation was performed and a pacemaker implanted in the five patients in whom the corridor operation was unsuccessful. CONCLUSION--These results substantiate the idea of this surgical procedure. Modification of the technique is, however, needed to achieve a reliable isolation between left atrium and corridor, which would make this experimental surgery widely applicable in the treatment of drug refractory atrial fibrillation.

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