3-D Technology Helps Surgeons See Better, Patients Recover Faster
MESA, Ariz. (April 23, 2010) Fred Conway, 63, was spending a quiet night at home watching TV when it happened. His defibrillator had gone off when his heart raced from 70 to 360 beats a minute. He described the feeling like “a punch in the breastbone.”
Five days later, it happened again, and this time, he woke up on the kitchen floor to his wife, Anne, shaking him awake.
Fred came to Banner Heart Hospital, where cardiologist Rodrigo Chan, MD determined the best course of treatment would be an atrial fibrillation ablation. Although this is a very common treatment, it would be done in a very uncommon way: in 3-D.
Banner Heart Hospital recently opened a $30 million expansion to its surgery, catheterization, electrophysiology and patient areas.
The project included two new labs, including a catheterization lab, which is used to place stents and open arteries in heart patients. The other lab is a dedicated electrophysiology lab, featuring highly advanced technology to track the electrical systems in the heart and treat complex heart rhythm disorders. With the addition of these areas, Banner Heart Hospital now has five catheterization labs and two electrophysiology labs.
The expansion added two new cardiovascular operating rooms, for a total of six at the facility. That includes four open heart and thoracic suites, and two endovascular suites. Banner Heart Hospital performs more than 800 open heart surgeries per year; the busiest program in the state of Arizona.
With the additional 26,000 square feet, Banner Heart Hospital was able to expand its outpatient area. That means more capacity for patients coming in for procedures and going home the same day to recover. The project also included additional areas for pre-operative and post-operative care.
Each 740-square-foot electrophysiology lab contains new technology, including the St. Jude Velocity Mapping System and Biosense Webster Carto 3-D Mapping System to treat heart arrythmias.
The 3-D technology “is like walking around inside the heart,” said Dr. Chan. Previous ablation procedures required cardiologists to direct the catheter inside the heart and use X-rays as a guide to find and destroy abnormal electrical pathways.
Chan said the operation would usually take up to 12 hours, which increased the risk of complication. It also made it very difficult to know exactly where in the heart the catheter was pointing.
“Imagine you were standing in front of a frosted window, and you were trying to toss a rope onto a chair on the other side of the window,” Dr. Chan said. “It’s not very accurate. You are practically guessing as to where you are.”
Fred Conway’s operation took a little more than two hours, and Dr. Chan predicts he will have few problems in the future.
“Patients are going home cured,” Dr. Chan said.
For Fred Conway, a retired assistant police chief, the chance to have an active life without the fear of death by cardiac arrest is a blessing.
“We had the right doctor at the right time,” Conway said. He then jumped up to give Dr. Chan one more hug.
While continuing to serve cardiology and surgical patients, the hospital’s new Cardiac Progressive Care Unit will also be the official home to the Banner Heart Hospital Heart Failure Institute. Banner Heart Hospital is the only accredited Heart Failure Institute in the state of Arizona, and one of only seven in the nation.
Banner Heart Hospital and Tri-City Cardiology work collaboratively with patients and their families to determine the best treatment for heart-failure patients.
“We are pioneering ‘transition planning,’ replacing the typical care model of discharging the patient – who had instructions but was largely on their own,” said Banner Heart Hospital CEO Laura Robertson. “Our patients receive intensive follow-up care that allows them to stay at home rather than be readmitted to the hospital.”