PATIENT TESTIMONIALS

Magnetic Navigation Treatment for Heart Arrhythmias

Last fall, Ron Dunham found himself in the Emergency Department at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH), where shock paddles were waiting, wondering “What am I doing here?” He was in good health, except that his heart sometimes felt like it was racing. There wasn’t any pain and it would come and go, so he paid little attention.

One day in November, Mr. Dunham was working from his Long Branch home and expressed his concern to his wife Maryann, during a phone conversation. As a nurse, Mrs. Dunham insisted he see his primary care physician right away. Mr. Dunham drove himself to Thomas A. Schwartzer, MD, an internist with Central Jersey Internal Medicine Associates, PA in Somerset. Two electrocardiogram (EKG) tests followed. Results from the first test were normal, but results from the second test were cause for concern. “Dr. Schwartzer and his associate, Christina Wang-Epstein, MD said to my wife “We have to take Ron to the hospital,” Mr. Dunham recalls. An ambulance, not his wife, would transport him to RWJUH where Mr. Dunham was found to have a potentially life-threatening arrhythmia.

He spent the next nine days being monitored in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). There was another EKG, a cardiac catheterization, and another echocardiogram, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a stress test. No significant abnormalities were found, but the dangerous heart rhythms continued. Subhashini A. Gowda, MD, a cardiologist with the New Brunswick Cardiology Group in Somerset, determined that Mr. Dunham was experiencing ventricular tachycardia, or recurrent symptomatic abnormal heart rhythms.

Initially Mr. Dunham was treated with medication but there was no guarantee it would work, Dr. Gowda explains. Mr. Dunham remained stable, but the tachycardia was accompanied by drops in blood pressure, which were concerning.

Following a consult with Clifford D. Gladstone, MD, also with the New Brunswick Cardiology Group, they decided to take him to the Electrophysiology (EP) Lab for an electrophysiological study and 3D mapping of the heart, induction of the arrhythmia and elimination of its source through delivery of radiofrequency energy using the Stereotaxis GentleTouch™.

With Stereotaxis technology, doctors can perform remotely controlled, image-guided computerized heart procedures more precisely and safely than traditional methods allowed. It is used to treat a number of irregularities including arrhythmias, heart failure, and coronary artery disease. “This technology is amazing,” Dr. Gowda says. “It allows for detailed mapping and studying almost all parts inside of the heart. The catheters soft, flexible tip can easily be manipulated without major concern about causing damage to the heart tissue.”

Dr. Gowda used Stereotaxis to search for triggers that caused Mr. Dunham’s rapid heartbeat. In the bottom chamber of the heart, on the left ventricle, around the mitral valve, she found an area of early activation that was causing his arrhythmia.

Mr. Dunham underwent an ablation, which is the burning or removal of cells causing abnormal electrical impulses leading to arrhythmia, and then he went home. “I came home and was able to return to work soon after,” Mr. Dunham, now 62, said. “My heart rate has been regular since the procedure. Special thanks to Dr. Gowda and her team for a job well done!”