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Saint Thomas Heart

Minimally Invasive/Robotic Maze Procedures

Robotic-assisted minimally invasive maze surgery is an advanced procedure for atrial fibrillation. The term “maze” refers to the series of incisions made in a maze-like pattern on the left and right atrium to form scar tissue. Scar tissue does not conduct electricity and disrupts the path of abnormal electrical impulses, preventing erratic electrical signals from recurring.

After the incisions are made, the atrium is sewn together to allow it to hold blood and contract to push blood into the ventricle.

During the procedure, small keyhole incisions are made in the chest between 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 robotic surgical tools.

Directing the surgical robot, the surgeon inserts tiny tubes, called catheters, through the incisions, and a flexible ablation device is passed through the catheters. The ablation device delivers hot or cold energy to the atrial tissue, which ablates, or destroys, parts of the atrium in specific sequential areas to form a pattern of scar tissue. This pattern creates a "maze" of new electrical pathways so electrical impulses can travel easily through the heart.

This type of surgery offers multiple benefits, including a shorter hospitalization, less bleeding and a faster recovery. Robotic-assisted minimally invasive maze surgery is ideal for patients at low risk of complications.