A Gentler Way to Heal Hearts
by Michelle BenseHealing hearts is now more accurate and safer than ever before. Epoch—the latest version of the Stereotaxis GentleTouch Magnetic Treatment System—is available at Aria Health, a three-hospital health system serving Philadelphia and Bucks County. The robotic system can be used to treat numerous heart defects, most notably arrhythmias, heart failure and coronary artery disease.
The system uses computer-controlled magnets positioned on either side of the body to help guide catheters through the cardiovascular system, to find and correct problems. For example, during cardiac electrophysiology procedures, physicians thread tiny catheters into various areas of the heart to identify and treat cardiac arrhythmias—abnormal heart rhythms that can sometimes be life-threatening. The computer allows more precise navigation of the guidewires, so doctors can spend less time on tedious mechanics and more time focusing on the patient.
Dr. Bradley Bacik, a cardiologist specializing in electrophysiology at the Heart Center at Aria Health’s Torresdale Campus in Northeast Philadelphia, performs 98 percent of his procedures using the robotic system. “For those with heart rhythm problems that do not respond to medication, we do a cardiac ablation procedure—using radiofrequency energy to cause a slight lesion in the heart muscle to eliminate the bad tissue,” says Bacik.
The robotic catheter moves as fluidly as manual catheters, but with added benefits. “During ablation procedures, the Epoch catheter is able to stay in constant contact with the heart tissue, creating a better lesion and more effective treatment,” Bacik says. Epoch’s catheter is very soft, so it won’t cause damage or perforate the heart as easily as manual catheters, meaning a reduced risk of complications. “It is bar none safer than any traditional manually manipulated catheter out there,” assures Bacik.
Some other benefits of the Stereotaxis system include less exposure to radiation, shorter procedures and faster recovery. Previous manual treatment techniques required multiple X-rays during the procedure to assess the location of the catheters, exposing patients to what can be a harmful amount of radiation. With the increased precision afforded by the magnetic navigation system of Epoch, radiation exposure is at least 10 times lower than traditional methods.
When considering heart treatment options, the advanced Stereotaxis technology available at Aria Health can give patients a smoother and safer treatment experience, changing the game of healing the heart.
Michelle Bense is the managing editor of Natural Awakenings BuxMont. Connect with her at [email protected] For more information on Aria Health, call 1-877-808-2742 or visit AriaHealth.org. February 2014.