Surgical Procedures for Atrial Fibrillation

If you have severe atrial fibrillation and have not responded to other treatments, the experts at the UPMC Center for Atrial Fibrillation may recommend surgery.

Surgery is often recommended either when other less invasive therapies have been unable to effectively treat atrial fibrillation or when structural changes of the heart exist such as enlarged heart chambers or the presence of a leaking valve, making surgery a more favorable option for long term outcome.

Open MAZE Surgical Procedure

The MAZE procedure is the gold standard open surgical approach to treat atrial fibrillation.

In the MAZE procedure, our expert surgeons use tiny incisions in the heart to create a maze-like pattern of scars in the atria. These scars block the transmission of erratic electrical impulses.

Our surgeons are known for their expertise in the MAZE procedure. Our research and practice have helped evolve this form of therapy for atrial fibrillation.

Minimally Invasive MAZE Surgery

For selected patients, surgeons perform the MAZE procedure using a minimally invasive approach that does not involve opening the breast bone.

An important benefit of this surgery is that it offers the exclusion of the main region of the heart  that has been responsible for stroke in atrial fibrillation — the left atrial appendage (appendix of the heart). This may allow patients to be safely taken off of long term Warfarin (Coumadin®) following the MAZE procedure. 

Isolated Left Atrial Appendage Ligation

For selected patients who may not be a candidate for other therapies, such as the MAZE procedure, yet medically cannot take anticoagulants such as Warfarin, surgeons perform a minimally invasive approach to close off or ligate the left atrial appendage (or the appendix of the heart). 

Contact the Center for Atrial Fibrillation

Call us at 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484), email us, or request an appointment online.

Additional Resources

From our Health Library:

EMMI patient education videos:

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA