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Cardiac Team's Innovative Approach To Saving A Toddler At Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Published In National Journal

The cardiac team at Memorial Regional Hospital has developed a unique lifesaving approach for the treatment of a form of arrhythmia found in infants and toddlers.

The technique, recently performed on a 14-month-old toddler and featured in HeartRhythm Case Reports this month, ultimately provides a new window of opportunity for cardiologists and electrophysiologists around the world to treat and save the lives of young patients suffering from this condition – something that has challenged the profession for decades.

Finding a new route, not typically used to treat an arrhythmia, allowed the team of adult and pediatric cardiac specialists to save the life of Amelia Durbin, who was rushed into Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital(JDCH) with an accelerated heart beat of 326 beats per minute. The normal rate at her age should be between 90 and 150 beats per minute. This type of arrhythmia, rare in infants and toddlers, is called ventricular tachycardia. This disturbance in the natural rhythm of the heart occurs when there is a change in the normal sequence of electric impulses in the heart.

The technique, unnamed at this time, was performed successfully in July 2015 and is the subject of an article in the March issue of HeartRhythm Case Reports, a nationally peer reviewed publication. The monthly publication features case reports and series devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders.

The article is authored by Daniel Benhayon, MD of Memorial Healthcare System on behalf of the adult and pediatric cardiac team that came together to find a solution to Amelia’s condition. The team that developed the approach includes John Cogan, MD; Frank Scholl, MD; Larry Latson, MD; Jaime Alkon MD and Ming-Lon Young MD, MPH.

The case of Amelia, her type of arrhythmia, her size, and the location of the arrhythmia presented several challenges.

“Our biggest challenge was being able to get an adult size catheter into a baby’s heart, to then use it to map the exact location of the arrhythmia and eliminate it without causing any damage”, said Daniel Benhayon, MD, Cardiac Electrophysiologist at Memorial Healthcare System.

“It is unusual to have a patient this small with this kind of problem and more unusual to have it in the location on the left side of her heart, said Frank Scholl, M.D., Chief of Pediatric and Congenital Cardiac
Surgery and Surgical Director of Heart Transplantation at JDCH. “The condition takes place when the bottom of the heart takes over control of the heart beat on the left side of the heart.”

The unique approach involved making a small incision between the ribs, introducing the catheter via the tip of the heart, and then navigating inside utilizing several imaging techniques, until the site responsible for the arrhythmia was pinpointed and then eliminated using radiofrequency, a microwave type of energy, explained Dr. Benhayon.

Dr. Benhayon reports in the article that Amelia’s case represents, to the best of the team’s knowledge, “the first case report of a successful ventricular tachycardia ablation via a trans-apical approach in a toddler. Prior groups have reported this technique in adults with prosthetic mitral and aortic valves, but its feasibility at this age was never tested before.”

“We are thrilled with the results” said Samantha Durbin, Amelia’s mom. “She is running, singing, and we are enjoying our family life thank to the amazing team of doctors and their work. We can’t thank them enough.”

The full report can be read here.

About Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital
In 1992, Joe DiMaggio himself helped Memorial Healthcare System celebrate the opening of the first Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. Today’s 224-bed hospital opened in 2011 and offers a safe, compassionate and nurturing environment for young patients and their families. With more than 600 board-certified physicians on staff, the hospital’s broad range of pediatric specialties includes: Heart Institute, Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, Cleft and Craniofacial Center, Cystic Fibrosis and Pulmonary Center, Emergency Department and Trauma Center, Endocrinology, General and Thoracic Surgery, Orthopedics, Pediatric Nephrology and Hypertension Program; Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Wasie Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, [U18] Sports Medicine, Outpatient

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