Objectives. We prospectively studied the recovery of atrial function after atrial compartment operation and mitral valve surgery in patients with chronic atrial fibrillation caused by mitral valve disease. Background. Chronic atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia in mitral valve disease. This arrhythmia is associated with excessive morbidity and mortality. Mitral valve surgery alone rarely eliminates it. Methods. Twenty-two patients underwent mitral valve surgery and a new surgical method, atrial compartment operation. Doppler echocardiography was performed in all patients before operation and at 1 week and 2 and 6 months after operation in the successful cardioversion group. Peak early diastolic (E) and atrial (A) filling velocities, peak A E velocity ratio and A E integral ratio of the mitral and tricuspid valves were measured. Results. Sinus rhythm was restored immediately after operation in 91% of patients and was maintained for >1 week in 15 (68%) of 22 patients and >6 months in 14 (64%) of 22. Eleven of 15 patients had left atrial paralysis ( A E integral ratio 0) at 1 week and 6 of 14 patients at 2 months. Nine of 15 patients had right atrial paralysis ( A E integral ratio 0) at 1 week and 1 of 14 patients at 2 months. Both left and right atrial contractile function (presence of an A wave on Doppler findings) was detected at 6 months in 14 patents. Mean (±SD) peak atrial filling velocity of the mitral valve was 15 ± 26 cm/s at 1 week, 38 ± 39 cm/s at 2 months and 93 ± 32 cm/s at 6 months (p < 0.001). Mean peak atrial filling velocity of the tricuspid valve was 14 ± 19 cm/s at 1 week, 33 ± 19 cm/s at 2 months and 50 ± 19 cm/s at 6 months (p < 0.001). Peak early diastolic and atrial velocities, peak A E velocity ratio and A E integral ratio of the mitral and tricuspid valves increased significantly from 1 week to 6 months. Conclusions. Chronic atrial fibrillation in mitral valve disease can often be eliminated by atrial compartment operation. No surgical mortality or significant complications were encountered. Both left and right atrial function, as manifested by Doppler findings, recover after compartment operation and improve over time. The mechanical function of the right atrium recovers earlier than that of the left.
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