The University of Toledo Medical Center now offers an innovative, minimally invasive surgical treatment for patients with atrial fibrillation, eliminating the need to continue on blood thinners.
The procedure, called CryoMAZE, uses precision application of extreme cold inside the heart, establishing a barrier that prevents stray electrical signals from causing the heart to beat irregularly.
“The goal of this procedure is to kill the cells without damaging the walls of the heart. This is why this procedure does not accidentally make a hole in the heart which can happen with heat-based procedures. If the cells are dead, they cannot conduct electricity. That makes a fence so the electrical impulses don’t spill over into the rest of atrium. It’s like putting insulation on a wire — you are letting electrical impulse to go through only in the normal path without spreading around randomly,” said Dr. Saqib Masroor, chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at UTMC.
Masroor will give a free, educational presentation on atrial fibrillation and the latest treatment options, including minimally invasive CryoMAZE, Thursday, Nov. 7, at 6:30 p.m. in the Center for Creative Education on Health Science Campus.
For more information or to register for the event, call 419.383.6939.
Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is the most common type of heart arrhythmia in the United States; it affects between 2.7 million and 6.1 million Americans.
In AFib, the heart’s upper chambers, or atria, don’t beat in coordination with the heart’s lower chambers or ventricles. That can lead to pooling of the blood and clotting in the atria, creating an increased risk of congestive heart failure and stroke.
Blood thinners are commonly used to reduce the risk of stroke in AFib patients, but they can increase the risk of bleeding. Other options for treating AFib require open-heart surgery or the use of catheters threaded through major arteries in either the groin or neck to get to the heart.
In the minimally invasive CryoMAZE procedure, a surgeon makes a small incision in the right side of the chest. Through that, they’re able to access the outside of the heart and create scar tissue with the specialized probe that is cooled to approximately -60 degrees Celsius. A surgeon also can put a clip on the left atrial through the same incision.
The recovery time in the hospital is typically three to five days.
Masroor said success rates for CryoMAZE are approximately 90%. An added benefit of using cold rather than heat to create scar tissue is that there isn’t a risk of putting a hole in the heart.
“Many people don’t know their options beyond blood thinners,” Masroor said. “We want to educate people that there are many safe options that will prevent them from having to take blood thinners and have complications from atrial fibrillation.”