Hybrid Lab

UF surgeons and cardiologists collaborate to offer the full spectrum of care for patients with atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation, an abnormal rhythm in the upper chambers of the heart, is a leading cause of stroke and, according to the American Heart Association, affects approximately 2.2 million Americans.

University of Florida cardiovascular surgeons and cardiologists are collaborating to provide complete care for patients. Treatments range from medicine to surgery and each patient’s treatment plan is tailored specifically to what is the best for them. Therapies include:

  • Medications to restore a normal rhythm
  • Novel blood thinning medications to prevent stroke
  • Cardioversion to shock the heart back into normal rhythm
  • Catheter-based ablation interventions to eliminate the trigger points on the heart, which enable abnormal rhythms, including cryoballoon therapy
  • The “Mini-Maze” operation, or minimally invasive pulmonary vein isolation procedure
  • Traditional open “Maze” surgery for atrial fibrillation patients who are refractory to the above therapies

Symptoms of atrial fibrillation include fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and loss of blood pressure, however, some people with the condition do not experience symptoms. According to the American Heart Association, the likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation increases with age, and three to five percent of people over 65 have the condition. Atrial fibrillation episodes can be paroxysmal (intermittent,) persistent or permanent.

“Hybrid” Approach

Committed to offering the latest in care, UF physicians now offer a “hybrid” approach to treating patients in persistent atrial fibrillation. The procedure combines catheter-based ablation, which interrupts atrial fibrillations on the inside of the heart and the Mini-Maze procedure, which ablates the outside of the heart, into one single operation designed to more effectively prevent the abnormal electrical signals which cause atrial fibrillation.

“We are excited to offer this new procedure which combines the efficacy of minimally invasive surgery and the mapping ability of cardiology in one setting,” said Thomas Beaver, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor and director of minimally invasive cardiac surgery. “We are impressed with our initial results, especially in patients that have been in atrial fibrillation for many years.”

In the past, these procedures have been performed in phases, however, the primary point of the hybrid procedure is to complete both at once so the patient does not have to come back and undergo anesthesia and a subsequent procedure.