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Advanced Heart Procedure Treats Growing Problem
Date:7/8/2009

le to handle.

"Most people undergo procedures for atrial fibrillation because they can't handle the meds," Dr. Johnkoski said. "Coumadin doesn't mix well with an active lifestyle. Patients will have to remain on their medications for a few months after a procedure, but after that, their quality of life will improve dramatically."

Benefits of thoracoscopic ablation

Surgery for atrial fibrillation previously required an open-heart procedure and an extensive recovery period. In recent years, minimally-invasive options like thoracoscopic ablation have been developed, which allow doctors to perform surgery on a beating heart without opening the chest.

Thoracoscopic ablation can treat persistent, or chronic atrial fibrillation, as well as paroxysmal, or occasional atrial fibrillation. Patients only need one procedure to correct the problem and be taken off medication. Catheter-based treatments can require multiple procedures.

During a thoracoscopic ablation procedure, a surgeon makes three or four small incisions on a patient's side, and uses the latest imaging technology to guide special instruments through the ribs and to the heart.

With the instruments in place, the surgeon creates precise scars on the heart to block the faulty electrical impulses that cause the heart to beat irregularly. The left atrial appendage of the heart is removed because stroke-causing blood clots often form here.

Thoracoscopic ablation isn't appropriate for everyone, and anyone with atrial fibrillation thinking about undergoing a corrective procedure should discuss all options with their physician.

"I'm glad I was a candidate for this procedure rather than something more major," Simonis said. "I'm glad I had it done. The biggest thing for me was getting off the Coumadin. Even though there are plenty of other dangers, I have never cared for taking any ki
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SOURCE Aspirus
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