The maze procedure is a surgical treatment for
atrial fibrillation. The surgeon can use small
incisions, radio waves, freezing, or microwave or ultrasound energy to create
scar tissue. The scar tissue, which does not conduct electrical activity,
blocks the abnormal electrical signals causing the arrhythmia. The scar tissue
directs electric signals through a controlled path, or maze, to the lower heart
The maze procedure is usually done during
open-heart surgery. The maze procedure can stop atrial fibrillation in most
people.1 But because of the risks involved with
open-heart surgery, this procedure is used only in people who have severe
symptoms and do not respond to medicine or other treatment. This surgery may
also be done with less invasive techniques, but this type of surgery is still
The heart has four areas, or chambers. During each heartbeat, the two upper chambers (atria) contract, followed by the two lower chambers (ventricles). This is directed by the heart's electrical system.
The electrical impulse begins in an area called the sinus node, located in the right atrium. When the sinus node fires, an impulse of electrical activity spreads through the right and left atria, causing them to contract, forcing blood into the ventricles.
Then the electrical impulses travel in...
The maze procedure is frequently performed with
other necessary cardiac surgery, such as
coronary artery bypass and valve repair or
What To Expect After Surgery
You will have to stay in the hospital
for about 7 to 10 days. Most people spend the first 2 or 3 days after surgery
in an intensive care unit (ICU) where they can be closely monitored. You will
be encouraged to walk within 1 to 2 days of your surgery.
Discomfort in the chest, ribs, and shoulders is common within the first
several days following surgery. Your doctor will order pain medicines to help
control this discomfort.
Medicines called diuretics are used to
control fluid buildup immediately after surgery. Your doctor may have you take
a diuretic at home for several weeks following surgery.
need to take an
anticoagulant, such as warfarin (Coumadin, for
example), after the procedure. But this is usually determined on a case-by-case
Recovery is generally complete within 6 to 8 weeks
following surgery. Some people have discomfort at the chest incision for
several months following surgery.
You will be able to get back to
your normal activities within 3 months of surgery. You may feel more tired than
usual, but most people are back to normal within 6 months.
less invasive surgical techniques are being developed. These techniques should
reduce the recovery time needed for this surgery.
Why It Is Done
The maze procedure is a surgical
treatment for atrial fibrillation. It is used to control the irregular
heartbeat and restore the normal rhythm of the heart.
may recommend the maze procedure if at least one of the following descriptions
is true about you:
You have symptoms of atrial fibrillation and are having another
You are having another heart surgery and adding the
maze procedure is not too risky.
You cannot have catheter
You have already had catheter ablation but still have
How Well It Works
The maze procedure has good long-term
results for treating atrial fibrillation. This surgery has been shown to stop
atrial fibrillation for at least 5 years in 92 out of 100 people.1
The risks of the maze procedure are similar to
the risks of any heart surgery and include:
Calkins H, et al. (2007). HRS/EHRA/ECAS Expert
consensus statement on catheter and surgical ablation of atrial fibrillation:
Recommendations for personnel, policy, procedures, and follow-up. A report of
the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) Task Force on Catheter and Surgical Ablation of
Atrial Fibrillation. Heart Rhythm, 4(6):
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
John M. Miller, MD - Electrophysiology
November 2, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
November 02, 2010
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