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Mini-Maze Procedure—Minimally Invasive Surgery
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Mini-Maze Procedure—Minimally Invasive Surgery Overview

Written by FoundHealth.


Maze is a surgical procedure of the heart. A maze-like pattern of scars is made in the upper chambers of the heart. The chambers are called the atria.

A traditional maze surgery requires the chest to be opened and the heart to be stopped. A mini-maze is done with small incisions and special surgical tools. This often leads to shorter recovery time and lower risk of infection.

Maze Procedure
Maze Procedure
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Depending on the reason for your surgery, your doctor may do the following:

  • Physical exam, including blood and urine tests
  • Chest x-ray —makes pictures of structures inside the chest using a small amount of radiation
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG)—records the heart’s activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle

In the days leading up to the procedure:

  • Talk to your doctor about your medicines, including over-the-counter medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home from the hospital. Also, have someone help you at home.
  • Eat a light meal the night before. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
  • If you smoke, it is best to stop.


General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep during the surgery. You may also be given a sedative before surgery to help you relax.

Description of the Procedure

Minimally invasive procedure only requires small cuts to be made in the chest wall. Two small incisions will be made along your side. A small camera will be inserted through one of the incisions. The doctor will be able to look at the heart with this camera. A second tool will be used to create small areas of scar tissue. The tip of the tool uses extreme cold or radiowaves to destroy small areas of tissue. This process is called ablation.

Once the chosen areas have been treated, the instruments will be removed. The skin will be closed with stitches or staples.

Immediately After Procedure

Your recovery will be monitored in the intensive care unit. Your heart’s activity will be recorded by EKG . Pain medicine will be given as needed to help you rest comfortably.

How Long Will It Take?

About 3-4 hours

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. Your doctor will recommend other medicine to help manage soreness later in recovery.

Average Hospital Stay

About 3 days

Post-procedure Care

At the Hospital

While you are recovering at the hospital, you may receive the following care:

  • Fluids and pain medicine will be given through an IV line. You may be given medicine to help control the build-up of fluids.
  • Efforts will be made to get you out of bed and walking as soon as possible.
  • You will be asked to do deep breathing and coughing exercises. This will help reduce the risk of fluid build-up in your lungs.

At Home

It can take up to 3-4 weeks to fully recover. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions, which may include:

  • Rest when needed. At first, it is normal to feel more tired than usual.
  • Walk daily. Activity will help with the healing process.
  • Take the pain medicine as directed. Some pain medicine can cause constipation. To avoid this problem:
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Eat foods high in fiber, such as:
  • Whole grain cereals and breads
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Legumes (eg, beans, lentils)
  • Keep the incision area clean and dry.
  • Limit certain activities (eg, driving, working, doing strenuous exercise) until your doctor has agreed it is safe.



Heart Rhythm Society

Society of Thoracic doctors


Canadian Cardiovascular Society

Health Canada


Maze procedure for treatment of atrial fibrillation. University of Southern California, Cardiothoracic Surgery website. Available at: . Accessed March 12, 2010.

A patient’s guide to heart surgery. University of Southern California, Cardiothoracic Surgery website. Available at: . March 12, 2010.

Patient information: the maze procedure. Society of Thoracic Surgeons website. Available at: . Accessed March 3, 2010.

Treatments for atrial fibrillation. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center website. Available at: . Accessed March 3, 2010

Wood D. Atrial fibrillation. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: . Updated September 2009. Accessed March 12, 2010.



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