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Hybrid Maze

Cardiac specialists at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital and SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital - Madison are performing a new minimally-invasive “Hybrid” approach to treating atrial fibrillation (AFib). This procedure combines surgery and catheter-based techniques to put a patient’s heart back into proper rhythm.

Hybrid Maze Procedure

Hybrid Maze is a two-stage procedure. In the first stage, your surgeon will create a “maze” or scar on your beating heart, without actually opening your chest. In the second stage, a cardiac electrophysiologist performs catheter ablation to create more scars inside of the heart. This procedure reverses AFib by putting your heart back into rhythm, all without a sternotomy. It also offers a much quicker recovery.

With Hybrid Maze minimally-invasive surgery is combined with catheter based techniques to offer patients better outcomes and improved recovery time. Lesions of the Maze can now be recreated, avoiding the need for an open incision down the chest.

Treating AFib

More than six million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation, a heart arrhythmia where the upper chambers (atria) of the heart bear irregularly and rapidly. This irregular heart beat causes the impulses to pass erratically to the ventricle (lower chambers), which results in efficient pumping, reduced blood output, and often low blood pressure. These tend to lead to symptoms of dizziness or shortness of breath.

The primary surgical procedure for treating AFib is called Maze. Maze creates scars in different areas of the heart, directing the impulse wave of electricity through the maze of scar from the upper chamber to the lower chamber.  Historically, this was done by opening a patient’s chest and cutting and sewing to make the lesions.

With Hybrid Maze, the procedure is a bit different.

Now, a minimally invasive procedure is done of half the scars on the outside of the heart and the remainder of the scars inside the heart are made via a catheter through the groin.

Like any heart procedure, the initial part of the hybrid maze still includes an invasive thoracoscopy of the chest while under anesthesia. However, this is able to be done through three tiny incisions rather than an opening of the breastbone.

The Hybrid Maze procedure allows patients to stay in the hospital for far fewer days as compared to their open surgery counterparts. They also have fewer restricts.

Whether you’re being treated for AFib, newly diagnosed or looking for other options, make an appointment with an SSM Health heart and vascular specialist. They’ll complete a thorough exam, review any previous testing you’ve had done, and discuss your best next steps.

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