Objectives: Most strokes associated with atrial fibrillation (AF) result from left atrial appendage thrombi. Oral anticoagulation can reduce stroke risk but is limited by complication risk and non-compliance. Left atrial appendage exclusion (LAAE) is a new surgical option to reduce stroke risk in AF. The study objective was to evaluate the safety and feasibility of standalone thoracoscopic LAAE in high stroke risk AF patients.

Methods: This was a retrospective, multicentre study of high stroke risk AF patients who had oral anticoagulation contraindications and were not candidates for ablation nor other cardiac surgery. Standalone thoracoscopic LAAE was performed using 3 unilateral ports access and epicardial clip. Periprocedural adverse events, long-term observational clinical outcomes and stroke rate were evaluated.

Results: Procedural success was 99.4% (174/175 patients). Pleural effusion occurred in 4 (2.3%) patients; other periprocedural complications were <1% each. One perioperative haemorrhagic stroke occurred (0.6%). No phrenic nerve palsy or cardiac tamponade occurred. Predicted annual ischaemic stroke rate of 4.8/100 patient-years (based on median CHA2DS2-VASc score of 4.0) was significantly higher than stroke risk observed in follow-up after LAAE. No ischaemic strokes occurred (median follow-up: 12.5 months), resulting in observed rate of 0 (95% CI 0-2.0)/100 patient-years (P < 0.001 versus predicted). Six all-cause (non-device-related) deaths occurred during follow-up.

Conclusions: Study proved that a new surgical option, standalone thoracoscopic LAAE, is feasible and safe. With this method, long-term stroke rate may be reduced compared to predicted for high-risk AF population.

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VC The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/bync/ 4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact journals.permissions@oup.com

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