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Treating the Inside & Outside of the Heart in One Procedure Offers Great Advantages to Patients

Arlington, VA (May 15, 2012) – Virginia Hospital Center is the only northern Virginia Hospital to offer the new minimally invasive Convergent Maze Procedure for patients with advanced Afib symptoms who have not responded to standard treatments. This new procedure has been added to the Hospital’s state-of-the-art Cardiac Surgery Program and Electrophysiology Service thanks to the medical expertise of Dr. John R. Garrett, Chief of Cardiac, Vascular and Thoracic Surgery, and Dr. Haroon Rashid, Cardiac Electrophysiologist. The Convergent Maze Procedure combines the best of cardiac surgery and electrophysiology to help restore normal heart rhythm for Afib sufferers with no incisions or ports in the patient’s chest, minimal pain, and shorter hospital stays and recovery time.

During the Convergent Maze Procedure, radiofrequency, or heat, is used to produce lesions (scar tissue) on the heart which result in an ability to block abnormal electrical signals causing Afib. Instead of invasive chest incisions in an open heart procedure, a cardiac surgeon first makes a small incision in the patient’s abdomen right below the diaphragm. Air is blown into the cavity, a scope and a camera are inserted, and the surgeon then uses the radiofrequency waves in the scope to create lesions on the outside surface of the heart.

Immediately following the cardiac surgeon, an electrophysiologist threads catheters through the patient’s femoral vein in the groin to reach and treat the inside of the heart using radiofrequency or cryoablation (cryoablation uses coolant rather than heat). Diagnostic techniques are conducted during the procedure to ensure that all abnormal electrical signals have been eliminated. Patients taking daily heart rate and heart rhythm medications are able to discontinue use soon after the procedure.

The Convergent Maze isn’t for everyone. Patients who are candidates for this new procedure are those who have not responded to standard Afib treatment options such as medications and catheter radiofrequency ablation. Patients who have undergone previous cardiac surgery are not eligible for the procedure.

About Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation, also known as Afib, is the most common and one of the most undertreated heart rhythm disorders in America. Approximately 3 million Americans are estimated to have the disease. Afib occurs when the upper chambers of the heart beat very rapidly and irregularly. When this happens, blood doesn’t pump efficiently to the rest of the body. Symptoms include palpitations, chest discomfort or pain, fainting or lightheadedness, fatigue, and shortness of breath. If left untreated, patients are at an increased risk of developing heart failure and they are up to five times as likely to suffer a stroke.

About Virginia Hospital Center

For over 60 years, Virginia Hospital Center has provided exceptional medical services to the Washington metropolitan area. Virginia Hospital Center is a 342-bed, $150 million state-of-the-art facility offering comprehensive healthcare and multiple Centers of Excellence including Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery, the Reinsch Pierce Family Center for Breast Health, Neuroscience, Oncology, Total Joint Replacement (hip and knee), Women and Infant Health and Urology. Growing service lines include Executive Health and the only Lung Cancer Center in northern Virginia. Virginia Hospital Center is a teaching hospital, long-associated with Georgetown University’s School of Medicine, and accredited by The Joint Commission and Licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Health. For additional information, please visit www.virginiahospitalcenter.com.


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