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What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (Afib), the most common abnormal heart rhythm, affects millions of Americans every day. In a normal heart, the four chambers beat in a steady, rhythmic pattern. With Afib, the atria (upper chambers of the heart) quiver or twitch quickly creating an irregular rhythm. It is one of the leading causes of stroke and can result in heart failure and poor quality of life. It has traditionally been treated with medicines including blood thinners.

Surgical Treatments for Afib

Atrial fibrillation can be reversed by ablating its sources within the heart with heat and/or cold energy. This can be done over a catheter (catheter ablation) or through minimally invasive surgery (MAZE procedure). Determination of the best option is based on the chronicity of the atrial fibrillation and in-depth evaluation by your physicians.

MAZE procedure creates an extensive ablation of the heart tissue allowing electrical impulses to follow a maze-like pathway restoring a normal sinus rhythm in the vast majority of patients. It can be performed as a single or twostage standalone procedure or in combination with other necessary cardiac procedures. As part of the MAZE procedure, the left atrial appendage is ligated as well, which has been associated with a significant reduction of stroke incidence.

Success Rate: 90%Freedom of Afib

Stroke Prevention

Patients with a history of Atrial Fibrillation have a 5x greater risk of stroke than a patient without Atrial Fibrillation. Stroke prevention is the key in patients with Atrial Fibrillation. Not all strokes can be prevented, but oftentimes patients are put on blood thinners to decrease the risk of stroke by preventing clots from forming inside of the heart. These clots most commonly form in a part of the heart called the Left Atrial Appendage.

The Left Atrial Appendage (LAA) is an anatomical structure that arises from the Left Atrium of the heart. If you make a fist and extend your thumb out, the fist is similar to the shape of the left atrium, and the thumb represents the LAA. This thumb-like structure is often irregularly shaped and can develop clots in it. There is increasing evidence that eliminating the LAA decreases a patient’s risk of stroke over time. Unfortunately, blood thinners can cause an increase in bleeding complications in patients, and some patients are unable to even take blood thinners. One of the ways we treat Atrial Fibrillation during surgery is eliminating the LAA.

Greater than 90% of the clots that cause devastating strokes in patients with Afib originate in the LAA. 

The Cardiothoracic Team at Shipley CT Center utilizes a variety of techniques and strategies specifically designed to decrease a patient’s future risk of stroke. We do this by eliminating the LAA surgically if you have Atrial Fibrillation or are at high risk for developing it. Our goal is to reduce your risk of stroke, and decrease your risk of bleeding complications by providing an alternative to blood thinners

Our program has grown to over 700 MAZE procedures and 1000 atrial appendage occlusions to date

Team Approach

"Our success is predicated on the collaboration with electrophysiologists, cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons"

  • Surgical Solutions for Atrial Fibrillation