Pamela Jones, MA
Maze is a surgical procedure of the heart. A maze-like pattern of scars is made in the upper chambers of the heart. The chambers are called the atria.
A traditional maze surgery requires the chest to be opened and the heart to be stopped. A mini-maze is done with small incisions and special surgical tools. This often leads to shorter recovery time and lower risk of infection.
Maze is done to cure
atrial fibrillation. Fibrillation is abnormal beating of heart muscle. It is caused by erratic electrical impulses that travel through the heart muscle. These impulses can cause the chambers to beat too fast. This can decrease blood flow through the heart. Atrial fibrillation can also cause blood clots to form in the heart that can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.
Maze is used to treat severe cases that did not respond to medicine or other procedures. Electrical impulses cannot flow through scar tissue. By creating specific patterns of scar tissue, maze surgery creates a pathway for healthy impulses and blocks erratic impulses.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have this procedure, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
Depending on the reason for your surgery, your doctor may do the following:
In the days leading up to the procedure:
will be used. You will be asleep during the surgery. You may also be given a sedative before surgery to help you relax.
Minimally invasive procedure only requires small cuts to be made in the chest wall. Two small incisions will be made along your side. A small camera will be inserted through one of the incisions. The doctor will be able to look at the heart with this camera. A second tool will be used to create small areas of scar tissue. The tip of the tool uses extreme cold or radiowaves to destroy small areas of tissue. This process is called ablation.
Once the chosen areas have been treated, the instruments will be removed. The skin will be closed with stitches or staples.
Your recovery will be monitored in the intensive care unit. Your heart’s activity will be recorded by
EKG. Pain medicine will be given as needed to help you rest comfortably.
About 3-4 hours
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. Your doctor will recommend other medicine to help manage soreness later in recovery.
About 3 days
While you are recovering at the hospital, you may receive the following care:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:
It can take up to 3-4 weeks to fully recover. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions, which may include:
After you leave the hospital, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
Call for medical help or go to the emergency room right away if any of the following occurs:
Heart Rhythm Society
Society of Thoracic doctors
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Maze procedure for treatment of atrial fibrillation. University of Southern California, Cardiothoracic Surgery website. Available at:
http://www.cts.usc.edu/mazeprocedure.html. Accessed March 12, 2010.
A patient’s guide to heart surgery. University of Southern California, Cardiothoracic Surgery website. Available at:
http://www.cts.usc.edu/hpg-index.html. March 12, 2010.
Patient information: the maze procedure. Society of Thoracic Surgeons website. Available at:
http://www.sts.org/doc/4511. Accessed March 3, 2010.
Treatments for atrial fibrillation. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center website. Available at:
http://www.bidmc.org/CentersandDepartments/Departments/Surgery/CardiacSurgery/DiseasesandConditions/AtrialFibrillation/Treatments.aspx. Accessed March 3, 2010
Last reviewed December 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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