The Cox-Maze procedure is one of three Maze procedures performed to treat arrhythmia, which occurs when the electrical charges that control heart rate are disorganized. In cases of atrial fibrillation, the Cox-Maze procedure is used to redirect these signals. It is concentrated in the two upper chambers of the heart (atria).
During the procedure, the patient’s chest is opened up and the heart is accessed via a major incision that cuts through the sternum (breastbone). To redirect electrical signals and achieve a normal heart rate, small, strategically placed cuts are made in the atria. The scar tissue that forms once these cuts heal serves as pathways to rechannel electrical charges and restore a normal heartbeat.
If necessary, excess tissue in the atria will be removed during this procedure in order to enlarge the atria. The last step of the procedure involves the left atrial appendage, a piece of tissue found in the left side of the heart. The surgeon may close this appendage to keep blood clots from forming, thereby preventing a stroke.