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Health Spotlight: Pioneering safe AFib surgery

Health Spotlight: Pioneering safe AFib surgery

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The CDC reports that more than 12 million people in the U.S. will have atrial fibrillation by 2030 – that’s when the heart beats too slowly, too fast, or in an irregular way. If left untreated, it can cause a stroke and heart failure. Medication can help, as well as surgery, but there is a risk associated with it that can be life-threatening. A brand-new device is making that surgery safer.

Washing dishes, making lunch, walking – simple things wore Amanda Mitchem out.

“I could be just sitting, and I just felt like I had ran a 10-mile run,” said Amanda.

She chalked it up to aging and being overweight. Amanda’s shortness of breath was actually atrial fibrillation, or AFib. The upper chambers of her heart were beating irregularly. Blood was not flowing properly to the lower chambers. When medications didn’t work, her best option was a heart ablation.

“The technique is designed to deliver energy on the back of the heart wall to eliminate the electrical short circuits,” said Dr. Emile Daoud, MD, formerly at The Ohio State University

While it’s effective, the thermal heat can also cause a hole in the esophagus.

“The patient will leave the hospital, they’ll feel well, then they’ll, kind of, slowly develop symptoms,” said Daoud.

It can be fatal, that’s why electrophysiologists at The Ohio State University helped design the ESOlution – a device that’s inserted down a patient’s throat, moving the esophagus away from the heart during an ablation.

“When you move it to the right, the left wall gets pulled along, also because of the suction. So, you move this entire segment,” said Daoud.

A clinical trial found approximately 33% of patients had esophageal injuries, but with the new device, less than 5% had any injury.

Amanda went from not being able to wash dishes to feeling good enough to go see her granddaughter in West Virginia.

“I mean, it was like night and day. I mean, the breathing was so much better,” said Amanda.

Doctors at The Ohio State University believe that moving the esophagus may also improve the effectiveness of the ablation procedure. With the esophagus out of the way, doctors can safely deliver larger amounts of ablation energy when it’s needed. Doctors hope the ESOlution gets FDA approval this year.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.