The minimaze procedure is a surgical treatment for atrial fibrillation.
The minimally invasive procedure is performed through small incisions in the chest. It uses surgical ablation to block the errant electrical impulses that keep the heart from beating properly.
A similar procedure, the Cox Maze III, is performed through an open chest when a patient has heart valve issues or other complications beyond atrial fibrillation.
How minimaze is done
The minimaze procedure is done by a cardiothoracic surgeon and usually takes just a few hours.
The surgeon makes several small incisions on each side of the chest. An ablation device, a camera and surgical instruments are then inserted through the incisions.
Electrical signals are then sent to the pulmonary veins to create scar tissue, which blocks chaotic electrical signals from interfering with the heart's rhythm.
Benefits and risks
The maze procedure can stop atrial fibrillation in 70 percent to 90 percent of cases. However, 10 percent to 30 percent of people will still need to take medications to help control their heart rhythm.
The risks of the procedure include bleeding, infection, stroke, pneumonia and heart attack.