First Patient Successfully Treated with Novel AF Procedure | Sentara Healthcare
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First Patient Successfully Treated with Novel AF Procedure 

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September 17, 2012 - Norfolk, VA - Sentara Heart Hospital is leading the way in an innovative Atrial Fibrillation (AF or A-Fib) procedure for what is typically the most difficult to treat or persistent, forms of AF. This past week, surgeons and cardiologists at Sentara Heart Hospital were the first in the world to begin performing surgeries in the Dual Epicardial Endocardial Persistent Atrial Fibrillation (AF) NorfolkStudy (Staged DEEP) feasibility trial. The first procedure was performed by cardiothoracic surgeon collaborator Jonathan Philpott, M.D., director of the Sentara Atrial Fibrillation Surgery Program and cardiac electrophysiologist collaborator Ian Woollett, M.D. of Cardiovascular Associates.

Hybrid-Cardiac Operating Suite at Sentara Heart Hospital.The Staged DEEP trial is a Food and Drug Administration-approved pilot study sponsored by cardiac device manufacturer, AtriCure, Inc. The study is designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a combined procedure whereby the surgeon creates lines of block on the outside of the heart working through tiny chest incisions.

During the same hospital stay, an electrophysiologist tests the surgical lines and then completes additional ablation lines using tiny catheters within the heart. There are currently no FDA approved devices for the Minimally Invasive Surgical (MIS) or endocardial treatment of persistent forms of AF and current options yield very limited success.

"We believe that this staged hybrid procedure has the potential to represent an important advancement in the treatment of persistent forms of AF," commented Robert Bernstein, M.D., a leading electrophysiologist in Norfolk, Va., and one of four electrophysiologists at Sentara collaborating in the trial. "Our initial experience with this hybrid procedure suggests that it represents a highly promising AF treatment."

This procedure is performed in a cardiac hybrid operating suite at Sentara Heart Hospital, combining the diagnostic and treatment technologies of a cardiac catheterization lab and traditional operating room. This allows cardiac surgeons to work more collaboratively with cardiologists, in real time, to offer the greatest depth and breadth of cardiac services in one location.

AF is the most common irregular heartbeat affecting more than 2 million people in the United States. AF is characterized by heart palpitations, dizziness and shortness of breath. Persistent forms of AF comprise roughly half of the AF patient population. This number is expected to increase significantly due to the progressive nature of the disease and the aging population.

Dr. Philpott added, "Our preliminary experience with this procedure is very encouraging. The partnership between the electrophysiologist and the cardiac surgeon in the hybrid procedure leverages the skills and technologies of each specialist providing patients with the most comprehensive ablation and mapping procedure available.”

Dr. Woollett added, “Staging these procedures gives the cardiac surgeon and the electrophysiologist the flexibility to work within their own familiar environments making each team more efficient and effective.”

Sentara offers a number of services to help patients manage AF, including establishing the Sentara Heart Arrhythmia Center – the region's first and only center that brings together highly talented cardiothoracic surgeons and cardiac electrophysiologists to diagnose and treat simple to complex AF and other cardiac arrhythmias.

Sentara Heart Hospital is one of only five leading AF Centers of Excellence participating in this FDA trial. Other medical centers included are Stanford Medical Center, Palo Alto, California, Vanderbilt Heart Institute, Nashville, Tennessee, University Hospital Brussels, Brussels, Belgium and the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Learn more about cardiac care at Sentara.

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