Surgical Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation (CryoMAZE)

An estimated two million Americans live with irregular heart rhythms, called arrhythmias. Weill Cornell Medicine|NewYork-Presbyterian is a leader in the control of arrhythmias, combining the study, diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disturbances in both adults and children. With a success rate of up to 90 percent, we now offer a surgical procedure called "CryoMAZE" to all patients with atrial fibrillation who are also having an open-heart procedure.

Atrial fibrillation is a form of arrhythmia in which the atria (the two small upper chambers of the heart) beat chaotically. Atrial fibrillation is caused by irregularities in the transmission of electrical impulses through the heart. As a result, the heart is not able to pump blood effectively, which can cause blood to pool and form clots. People with atrial fibrillation have an increased risk of stroke, congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy.

The CryoMAZE surgical procedure can interrupt the path of aberrant electrical impulses that cause the arrhythmia. During this technique, the area around the pulmonary veins — the site where irregularities in the electrical impulses most likely form — is treated with freezing temperatures. This treatment forms a barrier that disrupts the pathway of abnormal electrical impulses, thereby curing the arrhythmia.

The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine|NewYork-Presbyterian also features a unique post-procedure follow-up program. Every patient who undergoes a CryoMAZE procedure is prescribed an ambulatory rhythm-monitoring system that is mailed to the patient at three-to-six month intervals during the first two years after surgery. This Mobile Cardiac Outpatient Telemetry (MCOT) unit is worn for five consecutive days. The data collected provide detailed information about the patient's heart rhythm, which then serves to guide medication management strategies.

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Maze Procedure for Atrial Fibrillation