Minimally invasive maze procedures offer atrial fibrillation patients the strong possibility of cure without open heart surgery. Success rates show that patients undergoing a minimally invasive maze procedure such as cryomaze, convergent maze or the traditional maze procedure (requiring open heart surgery) often achieve complete freedom from atrial fibrillation symptoms (irregular electrical impulses in the heart) without medications.
Both the minimally invasive maze procedures and traditional maze procedure are suitable for the sizable group of atrial fibrillation patients who do not respond well to standard therapies. The traditional maze procedure requires a major chest incision, and the use of a heart-lung bypass machine, which results in longer recovery times.
Our team of cardiothoracic surgeons is one of a select few that offers the full scope of maze procedures. With this specialty expertise available, you can be rest easy knowing that you are receiving the most appropriate option for your atrial fibrillation.
How Maze Procedures Work
Every heartbeat begins with an electrical impulse generated in the right atrium, an upper chamber of the heart. Normally, these impulses spread through the heart along well defined pathways, causing the heart muscles to contract in an orderly pattern. Atrial fibrillation occurs when electrical impulses bypass these regular pathways, causing disorganized and rapid heartbeats. A maze procedure creates a "maze" of scar tissue that interrupts irregular electric flow and redirects the impulses along a better course.
Performing a Minimally Invasive Maze Procedure
Each minimally invasive maze procedure is performed through a small incision at the right side of the chest without the need to cut through chest bone. Our multidisciplinary team of physicians will work with you to determine what treatment option is the most appropriate for your atrial fibrillation. When possible, our cardiothoracic surgeons offer appropriate patients minimally invasive surgery options that result in quicker recovery times and less pain.
During cryomaze, surgeons using a special probe that can drop to temperatures well below zero degrees. This allows surgeons to work from inside the heart to strategically freeze heart tissue to create a maze of scar tissue.
During a convergent maze procedure, surgeons use radiofrequency ablation (focused heat) to create scar tissue in problem areas of your heart.
During each maze procedure, surgeons will most often close a part of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA), which reduces risk of stroke caused by that area of the heart. In 90 percent of atrial fibrillation cases, blood clots arise from the LAA.
Atrial fibrillation symptoms stop immediately for the majority of maze procedure patients and often do not return. Additionally, they have the confidence of knowing that their risk of stroke has decreased dramatically.
Patients typically complete cardiac rehabilitation following the procedure and return to regular activities on a part-time basis within three weeks. Full-time activities usually resume in about one month.