Objective: The Cox maze HI procedure includes isolation of the pulmonary veins and multiple incisions in both atria in what corresponds to partial autotransplantation and partial denervation of the heart. The aim of this prospective longitudinal study was to identify physiologic effects of reinnervation on changes in heart rate at rest and in response to various stimulations and on atrial function after the Cox maze III procedure. Patients and methods: Power spectral analysis of heart rate variability, exercise testing, 24-hour Holter monitoring, electrocardiography, and transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiography were performed in 30 adult patients after the combined Cox maze III procedure and mitral valve surgery (maze group). They were prospectively followed up at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after the operation. The results were compared with those of 15 heart transplant recipients (transplant group) and normal probands (healthy adults, n = 12). Results: The physiologic effects of denervation with no differences in cardiac autonomic activity between the groups were seen early after the operation. Later, evidence of autonomic reinnervation was observed only in the maze group but not in the transplant group. Inappropriate heart rate responses during physical exercise were clearly evident in both groups after 1 and 3 months, with progressive improvement seen between 6 and 12 months only in the maze group. Left atrial function after the Cox maze procedure improved parallel to the recovery of sinus node function. Conclusion: Progressive improvement of sinus node function and atrial contractions with significant functional normalization 1 year after the Cox maze procedure corresponded to functional reinnervation and recovery of the autonomic nervous system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine