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Surgical factors associated with new-onset postoperative atrial fibrillation after lung resection: the EPAFT multicentre study


Purpose of the study Postoperative atrial fibrillation (POAF) is a recognised complication in approximately 10% of major lung resections. In order to best target preoperative treatment, this study aimed at determining the association of incidence of POAF in patients undergoing lung resection to surgical and anatomical factors, such as surgical approach, extent of resection and laterality.

Study design Evaluation of Post-operative Atrial Fibrillation in Thoracic surgery (EPAFT): a multicentre, population-based, retrospective, cross-sectional, observational study including 1367 patients undergoing lung resections between April 2016 and March 2017. The primary outcome was the presence of POAF following resection. POAF was defined as at least one episode of symptomatic or asymptomatic AF confirmed by ECG within 7 days from the thoracic procedure or prior to discharge from the hospital.

Results POAF was observed in 7.4% of patients: 3.1% in minor resection (video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS): 2.5%; thoracotomy: 3.8%), 9.0% in simple lobectomy (VATS: 7.3%, thoracotomy: 9.9%), 6.0% in complex resection (thoracotomy: 6.3%) and 11.4% in pneumonectomy. POAF was higher in left (4.0%) vs right (2.4%) minor resections, and in left (9.9%) vs right (8.3%) lobectomy, but higher in right (7.5%) complex resections, and the highest in right pneumonectomy (17.6%). No significant variations were observed as per sex, laterality or resected lobes. A positive univariable and multivariable association was observed for increasing age and increasing extent of resection, but not thoracotomy. Median (Q1–Q3) hospital stay was 9 (7–14) days in POAF and 5 (4–7) days in non-AF patients (p<0.001), with an increased cerebrovascular accident burden (p<0.001) and long-term mortality (p<0.001).

Conclusions Among patients undergoing lung resection, POAF was significantly associated with age, increasing invasiveness of approach and increasing extent of resection. In addition, POAF carried a significant long-term mortality rate and burden of cerebrovascular accident. Appropriate prophylaxis should be targeted at these groups.

  • anatomy
  • thoracic surgery

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as online supplemental information.

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