Atrial fibrillation is defined as chaotic or abnormal electrical signals or pathways in the atria or upper chambers of the heart resulting in an irregular heartbeat. The irregular heartbeat does not allow the atria to contract or squeeze normally, rather the atria quiver decreasing the amount of blood ejected from the heart with each heartbeat.
The Hybrid Maze procedure, pioneered at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute of Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Center for Atrial Fibrillation, is designed to treat atrial fibrillation in two stages: Stage I, minimally invasive surgery and Stage II, minimally invasive catheter ablation.
Each stage is responsible for placing scar lines in very specific places in and around the heart to isolate abnormal electrical signals that cause atrial fibrillation. Stage I places scar lines around the pulmonary veins from the outside of the heart with energy sources such as radiofrequency, cryo, laser, ultrasound, and microwave. Stage II, catheter ablation, places scar lines in the upper chambers or atria of the heart from the inside of the heart with energy sources similar to those used in Stage I.
After undergoing Stage I of the Hybrid Maze procedure, the patient returns home and is monitored for approximately one month to see if the atrial fibrillation returns. Stage I can be up to 90 percent effective for certain types of atrial fibrillation. Patients with other types of atrial fibrillation may require Stage II.
The Center for Atrial Fibrillation, led by medical director Jeffrey J. Goldberger, MD and surgical director Richard Lee, MD, offers a multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis and treatment of all patients with atrial fibrillation.
For more information regarding the treatment of atrial fibrillation, please call the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at (866) 926-5465.
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