Patient Care

New EP Lab Offers Curative Therapy with Reduced Risks

May. 13, 2010

Electrophysiology services at the University of Rochester Medical Center have expanded with the introduction of a third EP laboratory featuring cutting-edge technology for the treatment of cardiac arrhythmia problems. The use of new, specialized equipment – the Stereotaxis Magnetic Navigation System – will allow physicians to conduct more complex procedures to treat conditions such as atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter and ventricular tachycardia with greater precision and an added measure of safety.  

The University of Rochester Medical Center is the only institution in all of upstate New York to utilize the Stereotaxis Magnetic Navigation System, which is designed to allow physicians to more effectively navigate catheters through the blood vessels and chambers of the heart to treatment sites. This is achieved using computer-controlled, externally applied magnetic fields that precisely and directly govern the motion of the catheter.

One major benefit of using magnetic fields to steer a catheter is that physicians are able to use extremely soft, compliant catheters that cause less injury to the walls of the heart. Traditional catheters are somewhat firm so physicians are able to push them through veins, and oftentimes this process can cause trauma or lead to bleeding in the heart. With magnetic forces essentially “pulling” the soft catheter in the Stereotaxis System, the need for a stiff catheter is eliminated, along with several procedure-related risks and complications.

“Patient safety is always our number one priority,” said cardiologist David T. Huang, M.D., associate professor of Medicine and director of the Electrophysiology Laboratory. “You can’t beat technology that reduces risks and improves patient outcomes, which is what the new system allows us to do.” 

With the new system up and running, physicians in the EP lab have more tools to treat complex arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia and atrial fibrillation. Individuals suffering from these arrhythmias often have a reduced quality of life due to negative side effects from medications, fear of making plans, traveling or exercising, or health-related issues at work or in school. While control treatments such as medications may mask the problem for a time, potential curative therapies such as atrial fibrillation ablation and ventricular tachycardia ablation can greatly improve quality of life and ensure that patients require little, if any, further therapy. 

Huang heads the new lab and, along with three other physicians – Burr Hall, M.D., Spencer Rosero, M.D., and Mehmet Aktas, M.D. – has completed specialized training on the new equipment. Conditions that Huang and his colleagues can treat using the new system include atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, superventricular tachycardia and ventricular tachycardia. People with otherwise healthy hearts who have electrical problems may be referred directly to the Electrophysiology Lab at the URMC for consultation and therapy.

For more information or to refer a patient, please call (585) 275-4775.