The total thoracoscopic Maze (TT Maze) procedure prevents the occurrence of atrial fibrillation (Afib). Usually this procedure is recommended if medications, cardioversion, and catheter ablation have failed to control the atrial fibrillation.
Afib is a heart arrhythmia, during which electrical signals fire rapidly and erratically within the atria (top heart chambers), making the atria unable to beat normally. The TT Maze Procedure is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure performed to create a new, stable, and defined electrical pathway (a surgically created “maze”) for impulses to travel within the atria. This procedure is considered minimally-invasive because:
- It is accomplished through four small incisions (approximately the size of a dime) that are made on each side of the chest.
- With special instruments, the surgeon will create the scars (ablation lines) on the heart that will block and/or redirect the abnormal electrical impulses causing Afib.
- Scar tissue develops around the surgical incisions, and helps to maintain the electrical impulses within the proper pathway.
- The left atrial appendage (small part of the heart) is usually removed at the same time, as this is a probable cause of stroke.
The objective of this procedure is to control the chaotic heart beats that result from atrial fibrillation; but sometimes medications or a pacemaker may be required after surgery.
The TT Maze procedure is performed operating room with the patient under general anesthesia. It generally takes about 2-4 hours to complete.