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What to Expect

Minimally invasive maze surgery, also known as mini-maze, is an advanced procedure for atrial fibrillation. This minimally invasive procedure, similar to MAZE surgery, uses ablation rather than a scalpel. Unlike traditional open-heart surgery, this procedure also does not require the use of a heart-lung machine. This approach also allows for a shorter hospitalization and a quicker recovery.

How Minimally Invasive Maze Surgery Is Performed

During the procedure, six small keyhole incisions (three on each side of the chest about a quarter inch in length) are made on the chest, under the ribs. One of the incisions is used to pass a tiny camera, called an endoscope, to allow the atria to be viewed. The other two incisions are used to insert surgical tools. Tiny tubes, called catheters, are guided through the incisions to the heart. A flexible ablation device is passed through the catheters. The device delivers hot or cold energy to the atrial tissue, which destroys (ablates) parts of the artrium in specific sequential areas that form a pattern of scar tissue. This pattern creates a "maze" of new electrical pathways so that electrical impulses can travel easily through the heart.

This procedure is performed in a cardiovascular catheterization laboratory, with local anesthesia. An IV (intravenous line) into your arm or hand will provide you with medication to make the procedure as comfortable as possible.

Benefits of Minimally Invasive Maze Surgery

Minimally invasive maze surgery offers the same benefits as open-heart maze surgery with shorter hospitalization, less bleeding, and a faster recovery.

Minimally invasive maze surgery is only ideal those at low risk of complications. Each patient's diagnosis and treatment is unique and your physician will recommend the best approach for you. If a minimally invasive maze procedure is not ideal for you, minimally invasive maze surgery using robotic assistance or maze surgery can also be performed as open-heart surgery with a heart-lung machine.

Patient Guides: Preparing for Cardiac and Peripheral Catheterization