About the Procedure

Atrial Fibrillation Procedure

Cincinnati- Nationally recognized surgeons and cardiologists will debate the merits of a new, innovative procedure to treat Atrial Fibrillation (AF) with minimally invasive techniques via the Internet at 12 noon on Tuesday, November 16, 2004. Drs. Randall K. Wolf, professor of surgery and biomedical engineering at the University of Cincinnati, and his colleague Dr. E. William Schneeberger, associate professor of surgery, will demonstrate this new procedure and lead a discussion of its merits with noted electrophysiology cardiologists, Dr. Warren Jackman, professor of medicine at University of Oklahoma and Dr. Richard Henthorn of Greater Cincinnati Cardiovascular Consultants.

  Atrial Fibrillation Procedure

This is the fourth Internet broadcast of surgery from University Hospital and UC Surgeons, Inc. "Consumers are taking advantage of online resources regarding their health care, and we see this as a way to help meet those needs," says Jeffrey Matthews, M.D., Chairman of the UC Department of Surgery. "Physicians can also benefit by receiving patient treatment education right at their desk. Technology is allowing us to bring information in real time to those seeking it."

Drs. Wolf and Schneeberger developed this "mini-MAZE" procedure with Atricure (West Chester, OH) over the past several years. This procedure has been proven effective to cure AF without making a sternal incision-usually 7 inches long in the middle of the chest-without opening the breast bone to and without using the heart-lung machine.

"I am excited that our several years of research and development have culminated in a truly minimally invasive option for patients with some forms of Atrial Fibriallation," said Dr. Wolf. "This procedure is making waves in the cardiac community. I am so pleased that Dr. Jackman and Dr. Henthorn are available to participate in this discussion and provide patients with both the medical and surgical perspectives."

Atrial Fibrillation is one of the most commonly sustained cardiac arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeat. It affects an estimated 2.5 million patients, with approximately 300,000 new cases per year diagnosed. It's predicted that 5.6 million patients will be diagnosed with AF by the year 2050.The risk of stroke in patients with AF is estimated at 7 times greater than patients without AF. Atrial Fibrillation is second only to heart failure in terms of cardiac related hospitalizations.

Dr. Wolf performed the first case in the United States using this "mini-MAZE" technique at The University Hospital in Cincinnati in August 2003. Since then more than 80 patients have undergone this procedure. The procedure and technology are designed to cure atrial fibrillation in patients who are non-responsive or suffer from disabling side effects of drug therapy. These were the first patients treated in the United States using Atricure's technology without a sternotomy, and with the removal of the left atrial appendage, a small part of the heart where blood clots tend to form.

In the case presented via the Internet roundtable, as in all cases performed to date at the University Hospital, surgeons used the ISOLATOR ™ clamp which generates bipolar radiofrequency in order to isolate specific cardiac structures responsible for AF. The isolation procedure was performed using minimally invasive video assisted instruments. The instruments are inserted into the chest through two small incisions, one on each side of the chest. The ISOLATOR clamp uses radio frequency energy to isolate a precise area of the heart tissue and interrupt the abnormal circuits that cause the irregular heartbeat. During the procedure, the left atrial appendage, a suspected major source of cardioembolic stroke in AF patients, was also removed.

The traditional MAZE procedure has been used world-wide to cure AF, but until now its use has been primarily for patients with AF who were undergoing major open heart surgery for other cardiac diseases. The new less invasive "mini-MAZE" procedure allows patients who have suffered from long-standing on-again, off again or chronic AF to undergo a less invasive surgery to cure their AF and recover faster than tradition surgery for AF. Patients who undergo this procedure have hospital stays of two to three days, compared to seven or more with conventional surgery. Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers cover the procedure.

Dr. Wolf serves as the executive director of University of Cincinnati's Center for Surgical Innovation. In addition, he is a clinical member of the UC Heart & Vascular Center and UC Surgeons. The Center for Surgical Innovation is a partnership between UC's College of Medicine and Engineering, industry and government to develop new technologies in biomedical and surgical care to improve healthcare outcomes.

UC Surgeons care for patients needing specialized cardiothoracic, transplantation, cancer, gastrointestinal, plastics, pediatrics, burns, urology, and vascular surgical care. The University of Cincinnati, Department of Surgery brings $4.1 million in National Institutes for Health (NIH) research funding to the region, and UC Surgeons' ranking jumped to 15 in 2003, up from 28 the previous year. More information is available at http://surgery.uc.edu or www.wolfminimaze.com

The University Hospital is part of the Health Alliance, an integrated health care delivery system that also includes The Christ Hospital, The St. Luke Hospitals, The Jewish Hospital, The Fort Hamilton Hospital and the physicians of Alliance Primary Care. To view other Health Alliance news releases, go to www.health-alliance.com/pressroom.


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