NCH doctors work on creative treatments to address heart issues

Reporter: Amy Oshier
Published: Updated:

Doctors at NCH’s Rooney Heart Institute are now using a cutting-edge method to operate on patients.

It makes the operation safer for those who already have a distressed heart.

Using radio frequency to destroy a small amount of tissue responsible for irregular rhythm is a tried and true technique, which is why NCH Electrophysiologist Dinesh Sharma opted for a new approach to reach a delicate area in the lower heart chamber.

It involved using carbon dioxide to inflate the area, creating a larger work space temporarily.

“In electrophysiology, we do perform ablation to take care of abnormal tissues, abnormal circuits in the heart. And sometimes you have to go on the surface of the heart. And getting to the surface of the heart can be risky, because it can, sometimes there’s a 5% risk of puncturing the heart itself,” Sharma said. “Our goal is to get inside the sack, but not touch the heart. And it’s like only a few millimeters of distance. So by creating a layer of carbon dioxide in it, then we can increase that buffer zone so we can push our needle without touching the heart.”

With the help of interventional cardiologist Adam Frank, doctors performed this technique for the first time at NCH.

“My role was pretty simple, straightforward, it was to help him enter the pericardial space, which is normally filled with a little bit of fluid. But in order to get in there and inject the co2, we have to puncture intentionally puncture a small vein of the heart, with specialized wire in catheter,” Frank said.

Using wires as slender as a guitar string, they successfully navigated to the patient’s heart.

With room to work, they did the procedure using needles and catheter, without making any cuts.

“I think this technology has a bright future. And this will be, at least my preferred way, of doing ablation,” Sharma said.

It opens up a less invasive way to restore quality of life to very sick heart patients. The goal if the Institute is to bring new and innovative treatments to Southwest Florida.

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