7 Tips to Prepare for a Maze Procedure

  • Man with doctor
    Maze Procedure Preparation
    There are two basic types of maze procedures—a full maze and a mini-maze—to treat afib. The full maze surgical procedure is an open heart surgery. The mini-maze is a minimally invasive surgery. Regardless of the technique, it’s major surgery. Maze procedure recovery can take quite some time, especially with a full maze. The steps you take before maze procedure surgery can help your recovery go more smoothly. Here are some maze procedure prep tips to get you started.
  • refusing cigarettes
    1. Stop smoking.
    If you smoke, your doctor has probably already addressed the issue with you. So, it shouldn’t be news that smoking is bad for your heart and can make afib worse. Smoking also increases the risk of complications from surgery and can interfere with healing. What’s more, research shows people who continue smoking after various types of heart surgeries and procedures do worse long-term. Ask your doctor about ways to quit, even if you’ve already tried without success. Every attempt gets you closer to kicking the habit.
  • nurse with patient during heart stress test (electrocardiogram)
    2. Get your pre-op testing done as soon as possible.
    If your doctor orders tests before your surgery, don’t put them off. Some of the tests can take time to complete and you may have to wait for results as well. Exams your doctor may order include an echocardiogram (echo), electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), Holter monitor study, and a stress test. You may also need to get blood tests and imaging exams, such as a chest X-ray. Getting these things done in a timely manner will help keep your surgery on track. In fact, you may not be able to schedule it until certain tests are complete.
  • After surgery care
    3. Plan for your recovery.
    Both the full and mini versions of the maze procedure require a hospital stay. Help yourself when you get home by planning for it now. It can take some time to regain your strength and feel like yourself again. You will probably have some restrictions on lifting and driving, and need some help at home, for a little while. This includes having a ride home from the hospital and possibly to your discharge follow-up appointment. Make your life easier by organizing a recovery area where you have things you will need.
  • portrait of smiling senior woman lifting hand weight
    4. Find out if “prehab” is right for you.
    A new trend in cardiac surgery is prehabilitation—or prehab. It’s basically a program similar to cardiac rehabilitation you might use after heart surgery. It focuses on increasing your health and fitness before surgery, which may help you recover better. It’s an evolving area in heart surgery care, so ask your doctor if it’s right for you. If so, your prehab team will tailor a program to meet your specific needs.
  • prescription medication bottle sitting on a countertop in front of other prescription medication bottles which are out of focus in the background
    5. Ask about your medicines.
    Your doctor will talk with you about your medicines before surgery. You’ll probably need to stop some of them. Usually, doctors have you stop aspirin and other anticoagulants, such as warfarin, about five days before surgery. Be sure your doctor knows about all your prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines. Even supplements can affect bleeding time and cause other problems with surgery, so include them too. Follow your doctor’s instructions about the ones you should continue and the ones you should stop.
  • Pain Killer Pills or Tablets
    6. Follow instructions for eating and drinking.
    General anesthesia is standard for maze procedures. Your team will give you instructions about eating, drinking, and taking medicines before your surgery. Usually, they will tell you not to eat or drink anything for 12 hours or after midnight the night before surgery. Eating or drinking too close to your surgery may mean you’ll need to reschedule it. It’s a matter of safety with general anesthesia. If you need to take medicines in the morning, it’s usually okay to have sips of water.
  • Closeup of woman's hands packing suitcase
    7. Don’t forget your hospital bag.
    As you leave the house, remember to bring along a bag of things from home. You can pack the bag early to avoid feeling rushed. You’ll be in the hospital for a few days up to a week, so take time to consider what you’ll need. Along with necessities—like your insurance card and list of medicine and allergies—be sure to include come comfort items. This could include your own toiletries, robe, slippers or a pillow. You could also bring things to help avoid boredom, like books or music. Pack something comfortable to wear home when your stay is over.
7 Tips to Prepare for a Maze Procedure

About The Author

Sarah Lewis is a pharmacist and a medical writer with over 25 years of experience in various areas of pharmacy practice. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree from West Virginia University and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She completed Pharmacy Practice Residency training at the University of Pittsburgh/VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. 
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  2. Are You a Candidate for Mini Maze? StopAfib. https://www.stopafib.org/mini-maze-candidate.cfm
  3. Atrial Fibrillation Surgery. Johns Hopkins University. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/atrial-fibrillation-surgery
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  5. Cheng WH, Lo LW, Lin YJ, et al. Cigarette smoking causes a worse long-term outcome in persistent atrial fibrillation following catheter ablation. J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2018;29(5):699-706.
  6. Heart Surgery for Atrial Fibrillation (MAZE). Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/17086-heart-surgery-for-atrial-fibrillation-maze
  7. Maze Procedure. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/maze-procedure/pyc-20384973
  8. McCann M, Stamp N, Ngui A, Litton E. Cardiac prehabilitation. J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2019;33(8):2255-2265.
  9. What to Expect After a Maze Procedure. StopAfib. https://www.stopafib.org/maze-expect-after.cfm
  10. What to Expect After Mini Maze Surgery. StopAfib. https://www.stopafib.org/recovering.cfm
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Jun 25
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