Radiofrequency and Microwave Energy Sources in Surgical Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation: A Comparative Analysis


  • Veli K. Topkara
  • Mathew R. Williams
  • Fabio Barili
  • Renata Bastos
  • Judy F. Liu
  • Elyse A. Liberman
  • Mark J. Russo
  • Mehmet C. Oz
  • Michael Argenziano



Background. Due to its complexity and risk of bleeding, the Maze III procedure has been largely replaced by surgical ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF) using alternative energy sources. Radiofrequency (RF) and microwave (MW) are the most commonly used energy forms. In this study, we sought to compare these energy modalities in terms of clinical outcomes.

Methods. Two hundred five patients underwent surgical ablation of AF, from October 1999 to May 2004 at our institution via an endocardial approach. Patients were categorized into 2 groups: RF and MW. Baseline characteristics, operative details, and clinical outcomes were compared between the 2 groups. Rhythm success was defined as freedom from AF and atrial flutter as determined by postoperative electrocardiograms.

Results. One hundred twenty patients (58.5%) were ablated using RF, whereas 85 (41.5%) were ablated with MW. Most of the patients had persistent AF in both the RF and MW groups (85.7% versus 80.0%, respectively; P = .363). Intraoperative left atrial size was 6.4 ± 1.7 cm for the RF group and 6.4 ± 1.7 cm for the MW group (P = .820). Postoperative rhythm success at 6 and 12 months was 72.4% versus 71.4% (P ± .611) and 75.0% versus 66.7% (P = .909) for the RF and MW groups, respectively. Hospital length of stay was comparable for both groups (15.4 ± 14.0 versus 13.3 ± 13.9 days; P = .307). Postoperative survival at 6 months, 1 year, and 3 years was 90.4%, 89.5%, and 86.1% for RF patients compared to 87.9%, 86.5%, and 84.4% for MW patients, respectively (log rank P = .490).

Conclusions. RF and MW energy forms yield comparable postoperative rhythm success, hospital length of stay, and postoperative survival. Both sources are rapid, safe, and effective alternatives to “cut and sew” techniques for surgical treatment of AF.


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How to Cite

Topkara, V. K., Williams, M. R., Barili, F., Bastos, R., Liu, J. F., Liberman, E. A., Russo, M. J., Oz, M. C., & Argenziano, M. (2006). Radiofrequency and Microwave Energy Sources in Surgical Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation: A Comparative Analysis. The Heart Surgery Forum, 9(3), E614-E617.