Electrophysiology: MAZE Procedure

Maze surgery (also called the maze procedure) treats atrial fibrillation by creating a maze of new electrical pathways so that electrical impulses can travel easily through the heart.

The maze procedure is usually done after a person with atrial fibrillation has had poor results from medications or other types of treatment. It was designed to treat people who have chronic, intermittent atrial fibrillation.

Maze surgery can be done as traditional, open-heart surgery or as a minimally invasive procedure. Minimally invasive maze surgery doesn't require a large incision in the chest and doesn't require a heart-lung machine during surgery. Patients who have minimally invasive maze surgery usually stay in the hospital only two to three days compared to hospital stays of 10 to 12 days required on average after traditional open heart maze surgery.

Generally, recovering from maze surgery takes six to eight weeks. Some patients experience atrial fibrillation again within the first three months after surgery. However, this type of atrial fibrillation is generally more responsive to medications prescribed to control abnormal heart rhythms. After three months, only three patients out of a 100 who have the maze surgery experience more atrial fibrillation.

The maze procedure is extremely useful for patients with atrial fibrillation who are having other heart surgeries, including coronary bypass surgery or mitral valve surgery.