Overview of the GALAXY Procedure

The GALAXY procedure is a minimally invasive heart surgery that treats atrial fibrillation. This procedure was developed at Intermountain Heart Institute. The procedure is designed to treat atrial fibrillation without the use of the heart-lung machine and with smaller, less painful incisions. The GALAXY procedure is also known as the "mini-Maze" operation. The MAZE operation is more invasive, open-heart surgery that also treats atrial fibrillation.

A small 2-3 inch incision is made in the middle of each side of the chest. Using an operating video camera, catheters and a flexible clamp are placed around the back of the left atrium (Gemini system). Radiofrequency burns are then formed on the left atrium. These burns leave scars that redirect the heart's electrical impulses, eliminating erratic impulses and restoring the heart's normal pumping function. The surface of the heart is also electrically tested to ensure complete elimination of fibrillation. Finally, a thin automatic stapling device is used to remove the left atrial appendage.

The GALAXY procedure is effective at eliminating atrial fibrillation in over 85% of patients. Removal of the left atrial appendage also reduces the risk of stroke. Most patients leave the hospital within a few days and are able to return to normal activity within a few weeks. Many patients will be able to discontinue blood-thinning and anti-arrhythmic medications within a few months.

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