The MAZE Procedure
The electrical system in your heart controls your heartbeat. This system includes a network of electrical pathways similar to the wiring in your home. The pathways carry electrical signals through your heart, and this is what makes your heart beat. When it's working properly, your heart's electrical system automatically responds to your body's changing need for oxygen. It speeds up your heart rate as you jog, and slows it down when you read a book. When your heart rate speeds up, it means your heart pumps faster and your body gets more oxygen-rich blood. Sometimes the heart's electrical signals can lose their regular pattern. In the condition called atria fibrillation (AF), the heart's two small upper chambers (the atria) fibrillate instead of beating effectively. Blood isn't pumped completely out of the atria so it may pool and clot. And, if a piece of abloom clot in the atria leaves the heart and becomes lodged in an artery in the brain, the result is a stroke.
According to Dr. Bernard Fogelson, Howard Regional cardiothoracic surgeon, the last 18months have seen a dramatic increase in understanding the mechanism that causes trial fibrillation. This better understanding has led to a new surgical procedure designed to eliminate atria fibrillation, and Dr. Fogelson is one of only a few surgeons in the country performing it.
Howard Regional Health System is the only hospital in Indiana currently offering a ground breaking procedure to prevent stroke. The name of this procedure, Maze, is based on the concept of a puzzle. The procedure creates barriers and blind alleys which, intern, leave only one major route for an electrical impulse to travel from the top tithe bottom of the heart.
An earlier Maze procedure to correct AF was very difficult and highly invasive, requiring spreading the ribs and using a series of incisions to interrupt the conduction of abnormal impulses. It was done only as a last resort, and according to Dr. Fogelson, was not widely adopted because of the difficulty of the operation.
"The new Maze procedure is a much less invasive technique," he said. "It requires two small incisions, one for a small fiber optic camera and one for the Maze probe. Heat from this probe creates a lesion where irregular impulses start. This is called ablation. The tissue can no longer conduct electrical signals and the atria resumes beating normally."According to Dr. Fogelson, this is only half the procedure. In the heart, there is an appendage - a small "pouch" - where over 90 percent of stroke-causing blood clots occur. Safely removing this appendage, which Dr. Fogelson likens to the appendix in its necessity to the body's function, further lowers the risk of stroke.
If you would like to learn more about Maze, please call 765-864-5786.