|Grace Lewis of Milford says she began to feel better almost immediately after undergoing an innovative hybrid ablation procedure at Bridgeport Hospital in July 2011. Physicians at the hospital performed New England’s first hybrid ablation procedure in June of this year, with equally good results for their patient.|
Atrial fibrillation (or a-fib) is the most common heart rhythm disorder. It causes the heart to flutter rather than beat properly. As a result, blood may pool in the heart’s upper chambers and form clots. These clots can trigger a stroke. Other symptoms of a-fib may include chest palpitations, fatigue, dizziness and trouble breathing.
“Whenever I tried to do work around the house, I’d have to keep taking breaks to rest,” Lewis, 62, recalls. It was difficult to get anything done—and forget about walking or exercising for more than a few minutes at a time.”
For more than four years, Grace’s doctors used a combination of methods to treat her a-fib but these were only temporarily successful.
Grace’s cardiologist, Robert Winslow, MD, referred her to his colleague, Murali Chiravuri, MD, PhD, who was about to introduce the hybrid ablation at Bridgeport Hospital with Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery M. Clive Robinson, MD.
Until the new hybrid technique came along, ablation—creating scar tissue in and around the heart to block faulty electrical signals from reaching the heart muscle—was performed using either catheter or surgical techniques. These approaches were done separately, with each having its own distinct benefits, limitations and risks.
Hybrid ablation is a combination of catheter and surgical approaches, designed to maximize the advantages of each and minimize their risks. The cardiac surgeon (Dr. Robinson) creates scar tissue on the outside of the heart, while the cardiac electrophysiologist (Dr. Chiravuri) creates scar tissue on the inside of the heart.
Working side by side, the doctors perform a single, significantly less traumatic but more thorough minimally invasive procedure. In hybrid ablation, there is no need to open the chest. In fact, only three small incisions are needed, so patient discomfort and recovery time is greatly reduced.
Grace had the procedure on a Tuesday and was home three days later. A ten days later, she returned to her job as a control room operator for the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority.
“I noticed a difference immediately,” Grace says. “I felt stronger. I started exercising again and now I feel great.”
Dr. Chiravuri and Dr. Robinson will speak about the causes of and treatments for a-fib, including hybrid ablation, during the free lecture, “Heartbeat Out of Sync? Get Your Rhythm Back,” Thursday, Oct. 20, 7:00 p.m., at the Trumbull Marriott, 180 Hawley Lane. To register, call 1-888-357-2396.