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Minimally Invasive Atrial Fibrillation Surgery

Approximately 4% of the population suffers from Atrial Fibrillation (AF). Ten years ago, UVA developed an Atrial Fibrillation Center, the first center to treat AF in the Southeast. We have developed expertise in caring for these patients with a comprehensive team including physicians, physician assistants, and nurses. We have developed new techniques to treat the most challenging patients with a minimally-invasive hybrid approach which employs small incisions on the chest and uses a small scope that allows the surgeon to treat the atrial fibrillation. This experience is growing rapidly as there is little that most centers can offer for these challenging patients. We frequently treat patients who have failed traditional medications or even catheter ablations with this approach with outstanding results. In fact, over 90% of our patients remain in a normal heart rhythm (sinus rhythm) one year after our minimally-invasive surgery without medications.

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The volume of surgical ablation for atrial fibrillation has consistently increased each year. Most of these procedures are performed via a minimally-invasive approach. In just 5 months of this current academic year (2009-2010*), we have exceeded our last year’s volume.

Bar graph showing that the volume of surgical ablation for atrial fibrillation has consistently increased each year, where the x axis are the academic years and the y axis is the number of patients. In the years 2007 to 2008, the number of patients undergoing surgical ablation for atrial fibrillation was about 3; in the years 2008 to 2009, the number of patients was about 12; and in the first 5 months of academic year 2009 to 2010 the volume has already exceeded last year’s volume of about 12.

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