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Atrial Fibrillation


Schematic diagram of normal sinus rhythm for a human heart as seen on Electrocardiogram. In atrial fibrillation, however, the P waves, which represent depolarization of the atria, are absent. Enlarge diagram.

​During normal functioning of the heart, the chambers of the heart contract (“beat”) in a consistent and coordinated manner. Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heartbeat.  During atrial fibrillation, the heart's two upper chambers (the atria) beat chaotically and irregularly—out of coordination with the two lower chambers (the ventricles).

Atrial fibrillation is caused by irregular and rapid electric discharges within the heart. Its symptoms include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and weakness.  In many cases, this condition can corrected surgically.

Maze Procedure

The maze procedure is a surgical technique for the treatment of atrial fibrillation.  During this procedure, the surgeon will use a scalpel to create several precise incisions in the upper chambers of your heart to create a pattern of scar tissue.  Because scar tissue is not a good conductor of electrical signals, the creation of the scar tissue helps to redirect the abnormal electric discharges through a more appropriate and controlled path, or maze, thus reducing the atrial fibrillation.

The maze procedure is usually carried out during open heart surgery and is often performed along with other cardiac surgery such as CABG or heart valve repair/replacement.

Our surgeons who perform this procedure


This information is provided by the Department of Surgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. It is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.