Onze-Lieve-Vrouwziekenhuis Aalst - OLV

Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery

Minimally Invasive Heart Rhythm Surgery

Atrial fibrillation is a very common heart rhythm disturbance which increases with age and affects more than 20 % of patients over 80 years of age.  Most frequently, atrial fibrillation is asymptomatic, especially in elderly patients.
However, atrial fibrillation may also be very symptomatic, precluding people from major efforts.  Besides, atrial fibrillation carries a risk of blood cloth formation in the heart with subsequent possible dislocation to the brain or other organs.  This presents a major threat for which patients receive blood thinners as a temptative preventive treatment. 

The classical Cox-Maze procedure is a very effective surgical technique which electrically reorganizes both atria in such a way that the atrial fibrillation sources are extinguished.  As such, this procedure can be offered to these patients as a definitive treatment. However, since this procedure uses a full mid-chest inscision (with consequently major discomfort such as muscle and bone pain, long rehabilitation, etc …), patients are reluctant to undergo this procedure. 

We have been using in our department since several years a minimally invasive procedure through key-holes to treat atrial fibrillation surgically. Using a camera and specially adapted instruments, we perform the same lesion set as in the classical Cox-Maze procedure using cryotherapy. Therefore, we achieve the same results as the classical Cox-Maze procedure but with much less discomfort to the patient. Postoperative pain and discomfort are largely eliminated and rehabilitation is substantially facilitated. Besides, the cosmetic result of the procedure and the patient satisfaction rate is remarkably high.