Atrial fibrillation: review of current treatment strategies

Joshua Xu, Jessica G. Y. Luc, Kevin Phan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most prevalent cardiac arrhythmia in modern clinical practice, with an estimated prevalence of 1.5-2%. The prevalence of AF is expected to double in the next decades, progressing with age and increasingly becoming a global medical challenge. The first-line treatment for AF is often medical treatment with either rate control or anti-arrhythmic agents for rhythm control, in addition to anti-coagulants such as warfarin for stroke prevention in patient at risk. Catheter ablation has emerged as an alternative for AF treatment, which involves myocardial tissue lesions to disrupt the underlying triggers and substrates for AF. Surgical approaches have also been developed for treatment of AF, particularly for patients requiring concomitant cardiac surgery or those refractory to medical and catheter ablation treatments. Since the introduction of the Cox-Maze III, this procedure has evolved into several modern variations, including the use of alternative energy sources (Cox-Maze IV) such as radiofrequency, cryo-energy and microwave, as well as minimally invasive thoracoscopic epicardial approaches. Another recently introduced technique is the hybrid ablation approach, where in a single setting both epicardial thoracoscopic ablation lesions and endocardial catheter ablation lesions are performed by the cardiothoracic surgeon and cardiologist. There remains controversy surrounding the optimal approach for AF ablation, energy sources, and lesion sets employed. The goal of this article is review the history, classifications, pathophysiology and current treatment options for AF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E886-E900
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Thoracic Disease
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


  • Atrial fibrillation (AF)
  • ablation
  • surgery
  • Cox-Maze
  • Maze surgery
  • catheter ablation
  • radiofrequency
  • cryoablation
  • hybrid ablation


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