Heart and Vascular

Mercy Stories: Atrial Fibrillation

Oct 25 2018

How Mercy Health cared for Nancy’s AFib

Nancy Fisher learned she had an irregular heart beat during a visit with her family doctor. An assistant manager at a bookstore, Nancy had a family history of heart disease. Though the 67-year-old from Ada, OH, often felt tired, she was determined not to let her heart issue bring her down.

As Nancy’s condition became more difficult, she decided to take action. However, two catheter ablations didn’t provide the healing she needed. After that, Nancy learned of a procedure performed by Mercy Health – St. Rita’s cardiothoracic surgeon, John Sirak, MD. She decided to give it a try.

The 5-Box Thoracoscopic Maze Procedure is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure for patients with atrial fibrillation. With a success rate upwards of 95 percent, this procedure uses a thoracoscopic approach, consisting of four pencil-sized incisions on each side of the chest, to isolate the key anatomy responsible for AFib.

“I wanted to see my grandkids and great-grandkids,” Nancy said. “Now I feel better and sleep better.”

What is the 5-Box Thoracoscopic Maze Procedure?

First performed by Dr. Sirak in 2008, the 5-Box Thoracoscopic Maze Procedure has proven to be a successful method for treating atrial fibrillation. It is only performed in Lima at St. Rita’s by Dr. Sirak.

“Each step of the operation is a project of isolating the anatomy, isolating an enclosed section of the atrium,” Dr. Sirak said. “We are going after the areas that are most responsible for the AFib and electrically isolating them, so that the normal pathway can take control and thereby allow normal heart function.”

The advantage to the technique is that it offers clear confirmation of each step of the operation, thereby assuring that the ablations are complete.

Nancy’s procedure was on March 13, 2018 and continues to build strength. As part of standard surveillance to verify the success of the operation, Nancy currently wears a ZIO Patch for one week at specific intervals following the operation.

The ZIO Patch is a new form of ambulatory cardiac monitoring described as a wearable patch. The ZIO Patch is unique compared to traditional monitors as the monitoring device has no leads, no wires and no batteries. This makes monitoring the heart convenient and unobtrusive, while still being extremely accurate.

Nancy came into the operation with some degree of heart failure. Fortunately, by restoring normal rhythm, Dr. Sirak said her heart function will normalize in three to six months. Just as important? She will continue to feel even stronger, meaning she can get back to the parts of her life that she loves the most.

If you are seeking compassionate care for AFib or any other condition, visit the Mercy Health website today.

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Michelle Hellman

This procedure is an incredible opportunity for our patients. I’ve taken care of several of Dr. Sirak’s patients. They do so well.
October 27th, 2018 | 8:13pm

Kay Patton...a former coworker

So glad Nancy had this procedure..getting stronger everyday!!! It worked for her.
October 29th, 2018 | 7:42pm

Edwin Reese

Where is Lima? How do you determine what an irregular heart beat or a fib is?
October 31st, 2018 | 11:42am

Mercy Health

Hi Edwin, Lima is a city located between Toledo and Columbus, Ohio. While it's always best to see a doctor for a diagnosis, you can learn more about AFib here:
November 01st, 2018 | 8:27am

kay hagan-haller

My husband had Wolfe Mini Maze surgery which is basically the same thing at Deaconess in 2009. Interesting
November 01st, 2018 | 11:50pm

Jennifer Laureano

I am a retired RN of St Rita’s and was very happy when Dr Albdebaki told me about Dr Sirak and the 5 box maze procedure. The best part was knowing I would not have to travel far and this was conducive for my immediate family . I believe mine was more difficult because it was complicated by a previous ASD repair ( a whole in my heart that I was unaware of at birth) . For me it was very painful but the end result was great. I have had 8 episodes of AFib but the episodes only last 3 to 8 sec. while wearing the comfortable Zio patch for monitoring for 10 days. Since this test was performed at the 3 month mark Dr Sirak felt it was due to healing and irritability. I to sleep better, have more energy, and care for my grandchildren going up and down steps which used to be a big trigger to my A Fib..
November 04th, 2018 | 5:02pm

Andy J Miller

To all that want something for A-Fib except drugs, I highly recommend Dr' Sirak's 5 Box! Dr. Sirak took a man that was told he had less than a year to live, changed his constant A-Fib for over 1 year into NSR now for,almost 7 years! I'm 78 years old this year and enjoying my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren! Had it not been for Dr. John Sirak I never would have seen my great grandchildren or our 58th anniversary just one week ago! If you have had a Cath Ablation, that didn't work please don't, try try again to have the same outcome, get a second opinion from the Doctor that knows what he is doing and get rid of you A-Fib! Thanks to Dr. John Sirak for every year you have extended my life!
February 28th, 2019 | 8:41pm

Sandi Kohn

My husband, Bryan, was 55 years old and in AFib all the time. They were suggesting putting in a pacemaker until we were sent to see Dr Sirak. Bryan had the 5 Box Maze 2 years and 3 months ago and has a perfect heartbeat since. Dr Sirak is simply amazing and I thank him so much for giving us our lives back! I am going to keep you updated on Bryan’s heart with those Christmas cards that I promised. I can’t tell you how much you are appreciated. Hope all is will with you!
March 21st, 2019 | 1:08pm

Linda L Wesseler

How does this differ from Dr Randall Wolf's method? Dr Wolf is no longer in Ohio, now operates out of the DeBakey Heart Institute at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas. How many successful mini maze surgeries has Dr Sirak performed? Is Dr Sirak and Mercy Health St Rita's (and your anesthesiologist, etc) in-network with Medigold Medicare Advantage? I do not see them listed, although I believe I have gone to Mercy Health Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati for imaging services since I've had that insurance, and it was covered. Have not thus far been able to find an in-network heart surgeon with expertise and extensive experience in mini-maze surgery. Would like to have the mini maze procedure done asap.
May 21st, 2019 | 5:44pm

Linda Wesseler

I have left two messages for Dr Sirak or someone to call me about his 5 box mini maze surgery but no one has gotten back to me. I have some questions about how it differs from Dr Wolf's mini maze, whether you need to take blood thinners, whether clipping the LAA affects blood pumping ability in active/athletic patients, etc. and whether it's suggested as the first/only surgery for those more recently diagnosed who haven't had a catheter ablation but who've had internal bleeding on blood thinners so are adverse to taking them. Also am curious why no one else seems to be using Dr Sirak's method.
May 30th, 2019 | 8:26pm

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