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April 2010 Issue

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UC Docs at Forefront of Rare Heart Procedures

By Katie Pence
Published April 2010

What if a household appliance or vehicle wasn’t working properly due to wiring, but the specialty repair shop or an expert repairman was hundreds of miles away?
More seriously, what if the problem was in your heart?

UC Health electrophysiologists are taking this feat on head-first and are performing innovative and rare procedures in Cincinnati to bring quality care to local patients.

Recently, Alex Costea, MD, and Mehran Attari, MD, both electrophysiologists at UC Health University Hospital and the Cincinnati Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, performed several rare ablation procedures that have saved and improved lives.

The first cardiac ablation procedure was done on the heart surface of a patient who was suffering from severe ventricular tachycardia, a potentially fatal abnormal heart rhythm.
Costea says that UC Health electrophysiologists are the only experts in the area who do this intricate procedure and that previously, patients had to travel to Chicago to receive this type of care.

"The patient received up to 20 shocks from an implantable defibrillator before coming to us,” Costea says.

"We thought that the short circuit causing the abnormal rhythms was inside of the left ventricle but found that it was on the surface of the heart. We were able to get into the pericardium, the double-walled sac that contains the heart, and perform the ablation successfully, using our GPS-like mapping system called CARTO.”

In another case, Costea and Attari performed an ablation procedure on the left cusp of the aorta, only 5 millimeters away from main coronary artery.

"This was a very rare case—there may only be a few instances like this in the country,” says Attari. "If we would have ablated an area too close to the main artery, we could have closed it completely, leading to heart attack and sudden cardiac death on the table, but we were able to help an otherwise healthy patient get back to a normal life, without medicine or an implantable defibrillator.”

Aside from being able to perform these innovative procedures at the drop of a hat, Costea and Attari work with some of the most cutting-edge devices in the country.

"We are encouraged to travel abroad and learn about new technologies and techniques,” says Costea. "Then, once they are available in the U.S., we are able to apply our knowledge here. This opportunity gives us an advantage among other hospitals in the city and the Tristate.”

Both doctors say that being able to provide services that are not normally available to patients in the region is rewarding and that it speaks highly to the quality care provided at UC Health.

"Without the knowledge and ability to do these procedures, we would leave our patients in a tough situation—unable to receive the care they need close to home,” says Attari.

"By challenging ourselves, receiving advanced training and preparing for all situations,
we improve the lives of patients and make their health our top priority.”

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