In 2009, the Oregon Heart & Vascular Institute's board-certified electrophysiologists performed 214 cardiac ablations.
Cardiac ablation involves inserting an electrode-bearing catheter into a blood vessel in either the neck or groin and threading it to the heart, where it can pinpoint the location of the faulty electrical site. Once the damaged site is confirmed, energy -- either radiofrequency or cryotherapy -- is used to destroy a small amount of tissue, ending the disturbance or electrical flaw and restoring healthy heart rhythm.
Catheter ablation is most often used to treat rapid heartbeats that begin in the upper chambers of the heart. The procedure can also be used to successfully treat atrial fibrillation.
At the Oregon Heart & Vascular Institute, electrophysiologists and surgeons work closely together, whether during a cardiac ablation procedure or minimally invasive surgery, to thoroughly test and verify that the procedure has the intended therapeutic outcome for the patient.
Case Study: Ablation of College Athlete’s Heart Arrhythmia
Subject: A 21-year-old Western Oregon University student attending school on a track-and-field scholarship presented with persistent arrhythmia (120 bpm, shortness of breath) that interfered with his athletic performance and could not be controlled by medication.
Diagnosis: Heart tissue looked normal upon initial examination. Electrophysiologist Ramakota Reddy, MD, of Oregon Cardiology used the St. Jude EnSite System to create a 3-D electroanatomical map of the young man’s heart. He identified a pea-sized focal atrial tachycardia in the right atrium that was firing more actively than the rest of the heart (red area in illustration).
Treatment: Dr. Reddy opted to perform a catheter ablation, a non-surgical procedure that uses a catheter inserted into the heart to direct energy to the affected area of the heart muscle. The energy disables the pathway of the abnormal rhythm and allows the heart to beat normally.
Outcome: The student resumed normal activity, including competitive sports, with no additional problems.