Left atrial strain and recurrence of atrial fibrillation after thoracoscopic surgical ablation: a subanalysis of the AFACT study

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To assess transthoracic echocardiographic (TTE) left atrial (LA) strain parameters and their association with atrial fibrillation (AF) recurrence after thoracoscopic surgical ablation (SA) in patients in sinus rhythm (SR) or in AF at baseline. Patients participating in the Atrial Fibrillation Ablation and Autonomic Modulation via Thoracoscopic Surgery trial were included. All patients underwent thoracoscopic pulmonary vein isolation with LA appendage exclusion and were randomized to ganglion plexus (GP) or no GP ablation. In TTEs performed before surgery, LA strain and mechanical dispersion (MD) of the LA reservoir and conduit phase in all patients, and of the contraction phase in patients in SR were obtained. Recurrence of AF was defined as any documented atrial tachyarrhythmia lasting > 30 s during one year of follow-up. Two hundred and four patients (58.6 ± 7.8 years, 73% male, 57% persistent AF) were included. At baseline TTE 121 (59%) were in SR and 83 (41%) had AF. Patients with AF recurrence had lower LA strain of the reservoir phase (13.0% vs. 16.6%; p = < 0.001) and a less decrease in strain of the conduit phase (−9.0% vs. −11.8%; p = 0.006), regardless of rhythm. MD of the conduit phase was larger in patients with AF recurrence (79.4 vs. 43.5 ms; p = 0.012). Multivariate cox regression analysis demonstrated solely an association between LA strain of the reservoir phase and AF recurrence in patients in SR (HR 0.95, p = 0.046) or with AF (HR 0.90, p = 0.038). A reduction in LA strain of the reservoir phase prior to SA predicts recurrence of AF in both patients with SR or AF. Left atrial strain assessment may therefore add to a better patient selection for SA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2615-2624
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiovascular Imaging
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Left atrial strain
  • Mechanical dispersion
  • Mini-maze
  • Thoracoscopic surgical abation

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