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MAZE Procedure for Atrial Fibrillation

The MAZE procedure uses a pattern of scar tissue on the heart to treat irregular electrical signals.

The MAZE procedure is a surgical treatment for atrial fibrillation, a condition characterized by an irregular, rapid heartbeat. Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart abnormality, and it increases one’s risk of stroke, heart failure, pulmonary embolism and even death. Thankfully, the MAZE procedure is exceedingly effective and has the greatest long-term success at treating this condition.

Treatment Details

Tampa General Hospital offers the MAZE procedure from highly skilled cardiac surgeons and electrophysiology specialists. With their expertise, TGH is able to offer both the traditional open-heart procedure and a minimally invasive alternative:

  • Open-heart procedure – A surgeon makes precise incisions near the left and right atria (the upper chambers of the heart) to block the electrical signals that are causing atrial fibrillation. Then, the surgeon will remove the left atrial appendage before sewing the incisions closed. As the incisions heal, the scars that form will redirect the electrical signals, effectively giving the patient a normal heartbeat.
  • Minimally invasive MAZE procedure – During this procedure, the surgeon makes small incisions at the sides of the chest to access the heart and then uses a specific type of energy—radiofrequency, heat, cold or laser—to create a pattern of lines. Once scar tissue forms over the lines, it disrupts the abnormal pathways the electrical signals were using and directs them to a normal one.

What to Expect

The primary benefit of the MAZE procedure is curing atrial fibrillation and its accompanying symptoms as well as eliminating the risk of having blood clots, stroke or heart failure due to this condition. What’s more, the benefits of the minimally invasive MAZE procedure outweigh the open-heart option—a faster recovery period, less postoperative pain and a shorter hospital stay, to name a few.

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks to keep in mind, although complications from this procedure are rare (occurring in less than 1% of patients):

  • Infection
  • Damage to blood vessels or heart tissue
  • A reaction to the anesthesia
  • Prolonged bleeding
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Pneumonia
  • New arrhythmias
  • Death

Effectiveness

The MAZE procedure is highly effective—up to 95% of patients are cured of atrial fibrillation long-term after the treatment. TGH’s Heart & Vascular Institute is home to a multidisciplinary cardiac care team that is highly experienced in performing this procedure and committed to delivering individualized patient care and world-class outcomes.