Heart Surgery for Atrial Fibrillation (Maze) | Cardia Ablation | MedStar Health

Surgery to correct an abnormal heart rhythm

Your doctor may recommend a surgical MAZE procedure to treat atrial fibrillation (AFib) if medication can’t control the heart rhythm disorder or if you also need coronary artery bypass or another heart surgery. MAZE procedures are a type of cardiac ablation that creates a pattern, or maze, of scar tissue in the heart to disrupt faulty electrical signals causing your abnormal heart rhythm.

Our electrophysiologists and cardiac surgeons work together to perform this complex procedure, along with convergent MAZE procedures, a less invasive option.

What to expect during a surgical MAZE procedure?

You will be given general anesthesia to put you to sleep during the surgery. You will also be put on a heart-lung machine, which will take over circulating blood through the body and move blood away from the heart.

Your doctor will make an incision in your chest to reach the heart. They will then create a pattern of scar tissue using a scalpel or cardiac ablation, which sends a mild, painless burst of heat or cold to destroy problem tissue.

Before you are taken off the heart-lung machine, your doctor will perform any other procedures you may need or install a pacemaker to help regulate your heart rhythm after surgery.


Atrial fibrillation (AFib)

Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is a type of arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) in which the heart’s two upper chambers do not beat in sync with the two lower chambers.


Cardiac catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.

Chest x-ray

Chest x-rays use a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the structures inside the chest, including the lungs, heart, and chest wall.


An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Event monitors

An event monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but whereas an electrocardiogram takes place over a few minutes, an event monitor measures heart rhythms over a much longer time.

Holter monitors

A Holter monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but whereas an electrocardiogram records over a few minutes, a Holter monitor records over the course of a day or two.

Stress tests

Stress tests are used to assess how your heart works during physical activity. There are several types of stress tests, including treadmill or bike stress tests, nuclear stress tests, stress echocardiograms, and chemically induced stress tests.

Our locations

Distance from Change locationEnter your location

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

201 E. University Pkwy.
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

Ask MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

Have general questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at AskMHVI@medstar.net. If you have clinically-specific questions, please contact your physician’s office.