MAZE Procedure

In this Article

What are the Risks and/or Side Effects?

Although complications are very rare (less than 1%), some of the risks or side effects include:

  • Complications from the anesthesia
  • Pain from the insertion and removal of the breathing tube
  • Pain in the chest or ribs
  • Swelling
  • Infection
  • Complications from the heart-lung machine
  • Collapsed lung (during surgery)
  • Inflammation in the heart tissue
  • Blood vessel or heart damage

Because this is a major surgical procedure that operates on the heart, there is also the chance that you may die during the procedure. Talk to your doctor about these risks to make sure you understand them. Ask your doctor any questions you may have so that you can work together to make the best choice for you.

What are the Benefits?

Quivering atria can lead to blood pooling in your heart. This increases the risk of forming blood clots. These clots can then travel to the brain, causing a stroke. The maze procedure can help reduce the quivering in your heart and help reduce the risk of blood clots or stroke.

How Do I Prepare?

You can prepare for the procedure by:

  • Talking to your doctor about any medicines that you may be taking regularly.
  • Letting your doctor know if you get sick or have an infection at any time before the procedure.
  • Following your doctor’s instructions the day and evening before surgery, including when to bathe and when to stop eating and drinking. Make sure to ask your doctor about any other pre-surgery requirements to help your procedure go smoothly.

Before your procedure, your doctor may order additional tests to help get a better idea of how your body is working. These other tests may include:

How is it Done or Administered?

The maze procedure takes about three hours.

Before your surgery, small metal discs, called electrodes, will be attached to your chest. These electrodes attach to an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine, which will help your surgeon monitor your heart during surgery.

You will then be given an intravenous (IV) line that will give you anesthesia during the procedure, so you will be asleep the whole time and feel no pain.

After you are asleep, you will be connected to a machine called a respirator [res-per-AY-tor], which will help you breathe during the procedure. You will then be hooked up to a heart-lung machine, which will help make sure your body keeps working while the surgery is done.

After you are hooked up to all of these machines, the heart will be stopped and cooled so that the surgeon can operate on it. Your surgeon can create these therapeutic scars in several different ways. Your surgeon may make small incisions in the heart muscle, then sew them closed. They may freeze part of the muscle or create scars using electromagnetic energy. The end result is the maze of scar tissue that will safely conduct electrical signals.

Once the surgery is complete, your heart will be started again, and you will be removed from the heart-lung machine as soon as it is safe.

When Will I Know the Results?

Although recovery times may vary based on your procedure, it takes an average of about six months to fully heal after maze surgery. Talk to your doctor to better understand when you can expect to see results, and what they will be like.

What are Follow-up Requirements and Options?

You will need to stay in the hospital anywhere from five to seven days (sometimes longer), with at least one to two of these days in the intensive care unit (ICU).

You will need to go to several follow-up appointments, depending on the outcome of your surgery.

What is the MAZE Procedure?

The maze procedure is a heart surgery that treats atrial fibrillation [AY-tree-uhl fib-ril-LAY-shun], or “afib.” Afib is an abnormal heart rhythm caused by erratic impulses in the top chambers of your heart, called the atria [AY-tree-uh]. These erratic impulses cause the atria to fibrillate [FIB-ruh- leyt] (quiver).

This condition should be treated quickly because the quivering atria can cause blood to pool in your heart. This increases the risk of forming blood clots. These clots can then travel to the brain, causing a stroke.

The “maze” of maze surgery is named for the small cuts or burns the surgeon makes in the atria. These cuts or burns prevent the spread of disorganized electrical signals by giving the heart new pathways for them.