Heart & Vascular Center

Heart and Vascular (Cardiology)

#14 in the Nation
by U.S. News & World Report

Minimally Invasive Maze Procedure

Barnes-Jewish & Washington University Heart & Vascular Center cardiac surgeons offer a minimally invasive approach to cure atrial fibrillation. Research has shown that this approach takes half the time of the traditional surgical procedure but is equally effective, with a success rate of more than 90 percent.

The traditional Cox-Maze procedure, developed here under the leadership of James Cox, MD, cures atrial fibrillation by making a series of incisions in the heart, interrupting the abnormal electrical impulses causing atrial fibrillation. This approach is highly effective, but requires open-heart surgery, a 10-12 inch incision, and a temporary heart-lung machine to take over the heart’s role of circulating blood. Thus, not all patients are healthy enough to endure the operation.

A Less Invasive Cure for Atrial Fibrillation

Ralph Damiano, MD, chief of cardiac surgery at Washington University School of Medicine, and his colleagues developed an alternative procedure that replaces much of the cutting and sewing with smaller incisions and targeted bipolar radio frequency waves. Using two electrodes, a current is passed through a section of heart tissue, heating and killing thin bands of tissue and creating the “maze” effect of the traditional Cox-Maze procedure. This causes scar tissues to form, which have the desired effect of blocking abnormal impulses in the heart and curing atrial fibrillation.

Clinical data have shown that this modified operation has significantly shortened the operative time while maintaining the high success rate of the traditional Cox-Maze procedure. After the minimally invasive Cox-Maze procedure, the majority of our patients no longer need blood thinners or heart rhythm medications. They can enjoy a normal life.

To make an appointment with a Washington University heart or vascular specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call .



Reducing AFIB Stroke Risk

Atrial fibrillation or AFIB is one of the most common heart arrhythmias. It comes with an increased stroke risk and a new procedure at the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital Heart & Vascular Center is targeted to reduce the need for many to be on blood thinning medications. Find out more in this podcast with John Lasala, MD, PhD, director of the cardiac catheterization lab at Barnes-Jewish.


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