MountainStar Health November 04, 2016

Ogden Regional Medical Center, St. Mark’s Hospital and three heart specialists are once again first in Utah to collaborate in order to help patients with persistent, long-standing atrial fibrillation, often called AFib. This time, the specialists have expanded their unique partnership approach to include “Convergent ablation” as an innovative option for people with the most difficult to treat AFib, the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia.

The latest advancement in treating persistent, long-standing AFib was performed for the first time in Utah at Ogden Regional Medical Center and soon afterwards at St. Mark’s Hospital. Cardiovascular surgeon David G. Affleck, M.D. and cardiac electrophysiologists, Michael D. Eifling, M.D. and Peter G. Forstall, M.D., are among only a limited number of AFib specialists in the United States who combine their expertise to perform the Convergent ablation.

“These heart specialists are among only a limited number of specialists nationwide who are combining their expertise to offer one of the most advanced AFib treatments available today,” says Michael H. Baumann, M.D., MS, chief medical officer at MountainStar Healthcare. “This team approach is significantly improving the lives of patients challenged with the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia, who have not responded well to catheter ablations and other treatments.”

Dr. Affleck, Dr. Eifling and Dr. Forstall were also first in the state to pioneer the advanced hybrid ablation procedure for AFib in 2013.That minimally invasive procedure combines a surgical ablation (controlled burns) on the outside of the heart through a chest incision and a catheter ablation on the inside via the femoral vein over the course of a few days during one hospital stay.

While similar, the Convergent ablation procedure differs in two ways: 1) The surgical cardiac ablation is performed via small incisions in the abdomen laparoscopically – eliminating the need to deflate a lung. 2) Both ablations are completed during one anesthesia session in a single day, which significantly reduces the time patients are hospitalized. 

The innovative convergent ablation procedure is now available at two MountainStar hospitals:

  • Cardiovascular surgeon Affleck and cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. Forstall performed the procedure for the first time on Aug. 21, 2016 in Utah at Ogden Regional Medical Center
  • Affleck and cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. Eifling began offering the procedure to patients at St. Mark’s Hospital in September 2016

When it comes to treating AFib, specialists must weigh the invasiveness of the treatment against its efficacy and select the best option for each patient. Given that the combined Convergent ablation does not involve cardiopulmonary bypass, lung deflation or chest incision, it is the most minimally invasive, effective treatment available today for patients who are good candidates for this approach.

Convergent Ablation: Patient Benefits

  • Provides a treatment option for patients who fit the following criteria:
  • Chronic, continuous or difficult to treat atrial fibrillation
  • Other AFib treatments and ablations have not been successful
  • Cannot undergo hybrid ablation due to lung disease or other medical conditions
  • Integrated patient care provided by AFib specialists with complimentary expertise
  • Faster and less invasive option; external and internal ablations performed sequentially during one general anesthesia session
  • Combined approach reduces overall procedure times
  • Decreased stay in the hospital and quick recovery

tags: ablation , afib