Stereotaxis Robotic Ablation Treatment for Arrhythmia

What Is Arrhythmia?

An arrhythmia refers to the abnormal rate or rhythm of a person’s heartbeat. When the heart beats too early (premature contraction), too quickly (tachycardia), too slowly (bradycardia) or erratically (fibrillation), it cannot pump blood effectively, which may cause internal organs such as the lungs and brain to shut down. The average human heart beats 100,000 times and pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood throughout the body each day. It beats more than 2.5 billion times in a lifetime.

Some arrhythmias are harmless or life-threatening, and if it lasts longer, medical intervention may be required to restore a normal heart rhythm. An arrhythmia occurs when the heart’s natural pacemaker develops an abnormal rate or rhythm. The normal conduction pathway is interrupted, and another part of the heart takes over as a pacemaker.

Symptoms of Arrhythmia

  • Fast or slow heart beat
  • Skipping beats
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating

Arrhythmia Causes

Genetics, antibiotics and other medications can trigger arrhythmia in some people. These may include medications used to treat high blood pressure, depression, allergies and colds. A number of medical conditions may also cause abnormalities in a heartbeat, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Sleep apnea
  • Diabetes
  • Electrolyte imbalance

In some cases, other physical or lifestyle factors can cause arrhythmia, such as exercise, coughing, strong emotions, drinking alcohol or smoking.

Arrhythmia Treatment

Your doctor will help you determine whether you need arrhythmia treatment or take a ‘let’s watch’ approach instead. Arrhythmias often do not need specific treatment, but it is always important to have your heart medically evaluated to know if you need further medical attention. Arrhythmia treatment can help control your heart rate and therefore reduce some risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Options for treatment include lifestyle modifications and monitoring and medication. If other treatments are not enough to treat your arrhythmia, you may need minor procedure or surgery such as a:

  • Pacemaker implant
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
  • Cardiac ablation

Advanced Robotic Procedures Delivered with a Human Touch

What is Stereotaxis Cardiac Ablation Surgery?

Baptist Heart and Rhythm Center of South Texas offers another innovation treatment option, the Stereotaxis Robotic Navigation System.

Stereotaxis is an improved method of catheter ablation that helps doctors have control over the movement of the catheter. This non-surgical treatment for arrhythmia uses a remote magnetic navigation system to create three-dimensional images to help map out the artery and heart tissue to be treated. Using Stereotaxis for the treatment of arrhythmia may help reduce the risk of complications and increase the patient’s safety.

The system creates a weak magnetic field around the patient that can be manipulated by an integrated computer and three-dimensional mapping system to drive flexible catheters within the heart with extreme precision. This gives electrophysiologists greater control and better stability than can be achieved by hand.

What Are the Benefits of Stereotaxis Robotic Navigation System?

The robotic navigation system helps medical professionals treat heart rhythm disorders with reliability. It may also help reduce the X-ray exposure for both the patient and operator. This is most advantageous for patients undergoing a complex or repeated procedure and the operator who has chronic exposure to harmful radiation.

What is Cardiac Ablation?

Cardiac ablation is a procedure that uses radiofrequency energy (similar to microwave heat) to make small scars in a small area of the heart tissue that is causing the irregular heartbeat. This procedure prevents abnormal electrical signals from moving through the rest of the heart. It involves threading catheters (long flexible wires) through a blood vessel and into the heart. Doctors may suggest cardiac ablation when medicines used for treating arrhythmias do not work. Although this procedure destroys abnormal tissues, it does so without damaging the rest of the heart.

How to Prepare for a Cardiac Ablation?

A series of tests will be made to record the electrical activity and rhythm of the patient’s heart prior to the procedure. The doctor will ask the patient about pre-existing medical conditions the patient may have, including diabetes or kidney disease. Eating or drinking anything after midnight may be prohibited as well as any intake of medications that can increase the patient’s risk of excessive bleeding like blood thinners.

What Happens During a Cardiac Ablation?

Cardiac ablation is a minor surgery performed in a hospital by a healthcare team that may include a cardiologist, a technician, a nurse and an anesthesiologist. This procedure typically takes between 3-6 hours and may be done under general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation.

Your doctor cleans and numbs an area of your arm, groin or upper thigh or neck. They will then thread a series of catheters through a blood vessel and into your heart. A special contrast dye will be injected to help your doctor see areas of abnormal muscle in your heart. Next, your doctor will aim the catheter with an electrode at the tip to direct a burst of radiofrequency waves, heat or very cold temperatures to create a small scar to a small area of your heart tissue. This electrical pulse will stop abnormal electrical signals from reaching the rest of your heart, correcting your heart’s irregular heartbeat.

After the procedure, you will stay in the recovery room for another 4-6 hours or overnight to help your body recover. Make transportation arrangements prior to this procedure to prevent falls because of the medicines or anesthesia you received. You will be asked to limit your movement to prevent bleeding in the area where the catheters were inserted.

Get Back Into the Rhythm of Life.

Baptist offers the innovative Stereotaxis Robotic Navigation System for the treatment of irregular heartbeat.

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