To overcome limitations of minimally invasive surgical ablation as a standalone procedure in eliminating atrial fibrillation (AF), hybrid approaches incorporating adjunctive endovascular catheter ablation have been proposed in recent years. The endovascular component targets residual conduction gaps and identifies additional electrophysiological targets with the goal of minimizing recurrent atrial arrhythmia. We performed a systematic review of published studies of hybrid AF ablation, analyzing 432 pooled patients (19% paroxysmal, 29% persistent, 52% long-standing persistent) treated using three different approaches: A. bilateral thoracoscopy with bipolar radiofrequency (RF) clamp-based approach; B. right thoracoscopic suction monopolar RF catheter-based approach; and C. subxiphoid posterior pericardioscopic (“convergent”) approach. Freedom from recurrence off antiarrhythmic medications at 12 months was seen in 88.1% [133/151] for A, 73.4% [47/64] for B, and 59.3% [80/135] for C, with no significant difference between paroxysmal (76.9%) and persistent/long-standing persistent AF (73.4%). Death and major surgical complications were reported in 8.5% with A, 0% with B and 8.6% with C. A critical appraisal of hybrid ablation is presented, drawing from experiences and insights published over the years on catheter ablation of AF, with a discussion of the rationale underlying hybrid ablation, its strengths and limitations, where it may have a unique role in clinical management of patients with AF, which questions remain unanswered and areas for further investigation.
Credits: Faisal F. Syed; Hakan Oral