What to Expect During Mini Maze Surgery
What should you expect during a mini maze procedure? We're not holding back. You need unbiased information — good and bad — to help you decide and prepare for what you'll experience.
The information about what to expect is from patients who have had the mini maze surgery. Your surgeon can tell you what to expect, but it's different when it's actually being done to you. Only someone who has actually experienced a mini maze can give you the personal insights. Even some surgeons may not know some of these things, so feel free to pass these "what to expect" pages along to your surgeon.
The founder of StopAfib.org, Mellanie True Hills, had the mini maze procedure to eliminate her heart palpitations and irregular heartbeat and especially to get off of Coumadin®. She checked into the hospital at 6AM the morning of her mini maze, and as instructed had no makeup or jewelry. Once back in the prep area, she changed into one of those infernal hospital gowns, and her shoes and clothes went into a bag that she gave to her husband.
Next, the IV — with her tiny blood vessels, that was a challenge, but was finally accomplished — and the anesthesia was started. That's about all that she remembers, until she woke up in her hospital room later that same day.
Having a mini maze procedure takes just a few hours, usually 2–4 hours. Unlike open-heart surgery, which requires a large chest incision, mini maze only requires three or four small incisions on each side of the body for accessing both sides of the heart. Incisions are used for the surgical instruments and ablation device as well as the thoracoscope (endoscope) that lets the surgeon view the outer (epicardial) surface of the heart. The ablation device lets the surgeon apply an energy source to the pulmonary veins and elsewhere, such as nerve bundles called ganglionic plexi, to block the conduction of the erratic electrical signals to the heart.
If you have sleep apnea, you'll want to watch this video, Noted Electrophysiologist and Ablation Pioneer Discusses New Findings About Atrial Fibrillation and Obstructive Sleep Apnea, about the impact on sleep apnea of treating the ganglionic plexi.
During the procedure, the surgeon removes or closes off the left atrial appendage, an ear-shaped flap considered to be the source of most blood clots responsible for strokes in afib patients. For most patients we have talked with, removal of the left atrial appendage was a big deal, allowing them to feel confident that they were no longer at high risk of blood clots and stroke after their surgery. Some surgeons now do additional lesions that improve effectiveness of the surgery, especially for those with persistent or longstanding persistent atrial fibrillation.
To learn more, see What to Expect After a Mini Maze Procedure.