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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Classic Maze Procedure for Atrial Fibrillation

The Classic Maze procedure is the traditional approach to surgical treatment for atrial fibrillation. It is also referred to as the “cut and sew” Maze. Developed in the 80s, the procedure is the “gold standard” for surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation and has the highest long-term success rate. Northwestern Memorial is one of only a few hospitals to offer this procedure.

The Classic Maze Procedure Explained

During the Classic Maze procedure, multiple incisions are made in the right and left atria (the upper chambers of the heart) to isolate abnormal electrical signals or impulses causing atrial fibrillation. The left atrial appendage (a pocket-like section in the left atrium)—often a source of blood clot formation and stroke—is completely removed. The incisions are then sewn closed.

As the incisions heal, they form a pattern of scars, redirecting abnormal electrical signals that were triggering atrial fibrillation. Because the incisions are made from the inside of the heart, patients need to be on a heart-lung or “bypass” machine during surgery.

Surgeons at Northwestern Memorial often perform the Classic Maze procedure for patients with large atria and long-standing atrial fibrillation or who have a blood clot in the left atrial appendage. Frequently, these patients have tried multiple treatments including medications, cardioversions and catheter ablations without success.

Cardiac Surgery in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation

Patients scheduled for heart surgery with a history of atrial fibrillation should also receive treatment of the atrial fibrillation if possible.

In these cases, energy sources like radiofrequency clamps and cryothermy are used to create the pattern of scars. These techniques allow surgeons to work faster and reduce the length of time on the heart-lung or “bypass” machine. Using these technologies, we are able to treat more patients with atrial fibrillation. Your physician will discuss the procedure that best matches your particular surgical needs.

Contact Us Today

For more information regarding atrial fibrillation, please call the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 312-694-AFIB (2342) and ask to speak with one of our dedicated atrial fibrillation nurses. Jane Kruse and Mary Navarrete can provide information, answer questions and assist you with treatment options that best fit your needs. You can also request a first-time appointment online.

Clinical Trials and Quality Ratings

For more information regarding clinical trials related to atrial fibrillation, please visit the Clinical Trials Unit of Northwestern, send an email or call 312-926-4000.

Our quality ratings provide detailed information about data we have collected about our healthcare performance. View our quality ratings related to atrial fibrillation.

Last UpdateApril 18, 2013
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