Vagal denervation and reinnervation after ablation of ganglionated plexi

Shun ichiro Sakamoto, Richard B. Schuessler, Anson M. Lee, Abdulhameed Aziz, Shelly C. Lall, Ralph J. Damiano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Objective: Surgical ablation of ganglionated plexi has been proposed to increase efficacy of surgery for atrial fibrillation. This experimental canine study examined electrophysiologic attenuation and recovery of atrial vagal effects after ganglionated plexi ablation alone or with standard surgical lesion sets for atrial fibrillation. Methods: Dogs were divided into 3 groups: group 1 (n = 6) had focal ablation of the 4 major epicardial ganglionated plexi fat pads, group 2 (n = 6) had pulmonary vein isolation with ablation, and group 3 (n = 6) had posterior left atrial isolation with ablation. All fat pads were ablated. Sinus and atrioventricular interval changes during bilateral vagosympathetic trunk stimulation were examined before and both immediately and 4 weeks after ablation. Vagally induced effective refractory period changes and mean QRST area changes (index of local innervation) were examined in 5 atrial regions. Results: Sinus and atrioventricular interval changes and heart rate variability decreased immediately after ablation, but only sinus interval changes were restored significantly after 4 weeks in all groups. Ablation-modified vagal effects on effective refractory period or QRST area changed heterogeneously in groups 1 and 2. In group 3, regional vagal effects were attenuated extensively postablation in both atria. Posterior left atrial isolation with ablation incrementally denervated the atria. In the long term, vagal stimulation increased QRST area changes relative to control values in all groups. Heart rate variability was also assessed. Conclusions: Ganglionated plexi ablation significantly reduced atrial vagal innervation. Restoration of vagal effects at 4 weeks suggests early atrial reinnervation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-452
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


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