What is Arrhythmia?
An arrhythmia—or irregular heartbeat—is a disturbance in the normal beating pattern of the heart, meaning it beats too fast or too slow. Arrhythmias are commonly divided into two categories: tachycardia (heart beats too fast) and bradycardia (heart beats too slow).
Cincinnati Leads the Way
Our team of cardiologists performs a variety of minimally invasive procedures – some of which are not available anywhere else in Greater Cincinnati – that can provide permanent relief from a-fib and other heart conditions.
Read success stories from our patients to discover why we're at the forefront:
- Catheter Ablation Restores David Dankovic’s Active Lifestyle
- Just Two Weeks After Surgery, Frances Romweber says, ‘I’m Baaack'
- A-Fib Procedure Restores Jeff Szekely’s Worry-Free Life
- Compassionate Doctors Make the Difference for Sister Victoria Forde
Catheter Ablation for Arrhythmia
Catheter ablation, also known as pulmonary vein isolation or left atrial compartmentalization is the latest treatment for atrial fibrillation, and provides a variety of benefits. These include:
- High cure rate
- Quick recovery
- Only one incision
In this procedure, the physician uses a catheter to deliver radiofrequency energy to the heart, which then causes scarring that eliminates the arrhythmia. Advanced mapping systems allow the physician to literally see inside the heart in real-time and in 3D as they perform this procedure.
Stereotaxis During A-Fib Ablation
Good Samaritan is the only hospital in the region that uses stereotaxis during this procedure. Stereotaxis guides the catheter using a magnet, and provides a variety of benefits:
- Dramatically increased precision
- Less risk of damage to healthy heart tissue
- Reduced procedure time
- Less radiation exposure for you and your physician.
For many patients, a-fib originates in the pulmonary veins as they enter the left atrium. Our physicians electrically isolate each of the four veins by scarring around the veins as they enter the atrium. An ablation catheter and an ultrasound probe are each threaded up to the heart through the femoral veins. The probe provides guidance to enter the left atrium through transseptal punctures.
Catheter ablation is performed in about three to four hours, followed by an overnight hospital stay. Most patients resume normal activities within a few days. The majority of our patients receive immediate relief from a-fib, but, for some, improvement in symptoms comes over the next few weeks or months.
CryoAblation Catheter Ablation
TriHealth’s Bethesda North Hospital is the first in Greater Cincinnati to offer the Arctic Front Cardiac Cryoablation Catheter. Both Cryoablation and radiofrequency ablation provide patients with a-fib an alternative to a lifetime of medications, expenses, and other associated side effects.
In both cases, a catheter is used to perform a minimally invasive procedure that efficiently creates lesions around the pulmonary veins, which is the source of erratic electrical signals that cause the irregular heartbeat.
Unlike traditional ablation treatments that use radiofrequency, or heat, to destroy faulty electrical circuits in the heart, the cryoablation ablates cardiac tissue through the use of a coolant, which is delivered through a catheter. This freezing technology allows the catheter to adhere to the tissue during ablation, allowing for greater catheter stability.
Mini-Maze: Less Invasive Than Open Heart Surgery
Surgery for arrhythmia is an option for some patients. At the TriHealth Heart & Vascular Institute, the maze procedure is available for those who have not found success with medication and ablation, or for patients who require surgery for other reasons in addition to their atrial fibrillation.
The maze procedure creates scars to stop the arrhythmia in a manner similar to catheter ablation procedures. The main difference is that the scars are created under direct vision, usually with the chest open.
A full maze procedure requires a sternotomy, but at the TriHealth Heart & Vascular Institute, physicians can perform a mini-maze procedure without opening the chest, resulting in less pain, quicker recovery and more effective results. It is significantly less invasive than traditional open heart surgery. In addition to avoiding the pain and trauma of sternotomy and rib spreading, this may provide you with additional benefits, such as:
- Less risk of infection
- Less blood loss and need for blood transfusions
- Shorter hospital stay
- Significantly less pain and scarring
- Faster recovery
- Quicker return to normal activities
As with any surgery, these benefits cannot be guaranteed, as surgery is both patient- and procedure- specific. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits.
Robotic-Assisted Mini-Maze Procedure
The TriHealth Heart & Vascular Institute is the first and only in the region performing robotic-assisted mini-maze procedures. This procedure, offered specifically at Good Samaritan Hospital, provides an alternative treatment option for atrial fibrillation that is substantially less invasive than traditional open heart surgery, meaning less pain and faster recovery for you.
Our physicians can perform a mini-maze procedure – with or without the use of da Vinci robot – without opening the chest, resulting in less pain and a quicker recovery.
Another arrhythmia treatment option offered at the TriHealth Heart & Vascular Institute is cardioversion. During this non-invasive procedure, an electrical current is delivered to the heart via paddles applied to the chest using low energy levels.
Before the current is delivered, you will be given a medication that puts you to sleep for a short period of time, about 5 to 10 minutes. Once the electrical current is delivered, you may feel a brief, sharp sensation; although, most patients have no memory of the procedure itself. You are then monitored to ensure that your heart stays in a normal sinus rhythm before being discharged.
The majority of patients requiring cardioversion are on Coumadin or Warfarin. It is important that patients follow direction and protocol in the use of these medications prior to having cardioversion performed.
As with any surgery, these benefits cannot be guaranteed, as surgery is both patient- and procedure-specific. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits.