The maze procedure is a surgical treatment for atrial fibrillation. It can also be called a surgical ablation.
The surgeon can use small incisions, radio waves, freezing, or microwave or ultrasound energy to create scar tissue. The scar tissue doesn't conduct electrical activity. It blocks the abnormal electrical signals that cause the arrhythmia. The scar tissue directs electric signals through a controlled path, or maze, to the lower heart chambers (ventricles).
The maze procedure can be done in different ways. It may be done through small cuts in the chest. Or it may be done during open-heart surgery.
The maze procedure may be done if a person is having another heart surgery, such as coronary artery bypass and valve repair or replacement.
What To Expect
Recovery from a maze procedure depends on how your surgery was done. For example, recovery will likely be longer for an open-heart procedure than for a less invasive procedure.
You may 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 watched. You will be encouraged to walk within 1 to 2 days of your surgery.
Discomfort in the chest, ribs, and shoulders is common in the first several days after surgery. Your doctor will order pain medicines to help control this discomfort.
Medicines called diuretics are used to control fluid buildup right after surgery. Your doctor may have you take a diuretic at home for several weeks after surgery.
After the procedure, you may need to take a medicine (called a blood thinner) that prevents blood clots. But this is usually determined on a case-by-case basis.
Recovery usually takes 6 to 8 weeks. Some people have discomfort at the chest incision for several months after surgery.
You will be able to get back to your normal activities within 3 months. You may feel more tired than usual. But most people are back to normal within 6 months.
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.
- Rhythm-control medicine has not worked to relieve your symptoms from atrial fibrillation.
- You have symptoms of atrial fibrillation, and you are having another heart surgery.
- You are having another heart surgery, and adding the maze procedure is not too risky.
- You can't have catheter ablation, or you prefer to have surgery.
- You've already had catheter ablation, but you still have atrial fibrillation.
How Well It Works
The maze procedure has good long-term results for treating atrial fibrillation. It can stop atrial fibrillation in about 9 people out of 10.footnote 3 You may need to take heart rhythm medicine (antiarrhythmics) after the procedure.
The risks of the maze procedure are similar to the risks of any heart surgery that uses a heart-lung bypass machine.
Risks include:footnote 2
- Calkins H, et al. (2017). 2017 HRS/EHRA/ECAS/APHRS/SOLAECE expert consensus statement on catheter and surgical ablation of atrial fibrillation. Heart Rhythm, 14(10): e275–e444. DOI: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2017.05.012. Accessed October 17, 2017.
- Badwar V, et al. (2017). Society of Thoracic Surgeons 2017 Clinical practice guidelines for the surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation. Annals of Thoracic Surgery, 103(1): 329–341. DOI: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2016.10.076. Accessed February 27, 2017.
- January CT, et al. (2014). 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for the management of patients with atrial fibrillation: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society. Circulation, published online March 28, 2014. DOI: 10.1161/?CIR.0000000000000041. Accessed April 18, 2014.
Current as of: December 2, 2020
Current as of: December 2, 2020