Country's first 'simplified maze' using new ultrasound technology is done at Northwestern Memorial

97 percent of patients. While considered the gold standard in surgical treatment of AF, the Maze procedure is only performed by a handful of surgeons across the country because it is so technically challenging. In addition, because it requires patients to go on a heart-lung machine for up to an hour, it has typically been reserved for patients requiring other cardiac surgical procedures, such as coronary artery bypass graft or valve repair.

"While the Maze procedure is routine and incredibly safe when done by those surgeons who are experienced with the technique, many physicians still think of it as a failure if a patient with AF does not respond to medical therapy and has to be referred for surgery," says Dr. McCarthy. "The perceived magnitude of this surgery and the possibility of some complications associated with the heart-lung machine are responsible for this trend. The ultrasound technology enables us to perform a 'simplified Maze' that is highly reproducible. This innovation is likely to lead to more surgeons who can do the procedure and more patient referrals as physicians begin to consider the Maze a much simpler and safer surgery that doesn't require heart-lung bypass. I think we'll also begin seeing earlier referrals rather than this being the treatment of last resort."

In the Maze procedure, maze-like patterns are strategically made in the left upper chamber of the heart to interrupt the electrical signals causing the irregular heartbeat. Scar tissue, which does not conduct electrical activity, forms and prevents erratic electrical signals from recurring. The HIFU technology allows surgeons to recreate these patterns by placing a device that delivers high-intensity focused ultrasound to the outside of the heart in a precise pattern. When combined with another cardiac procedure, the 'simplified Maze' using the HIFU system adds less than five minutes to the overall procedure time.

"I anticipate that soon I'll begin doing

Contact: Amanda Widtfeldt
Northwestern Memorial Hospital

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