UT Health East Texas is conducting the first convergence procedure in the Afib treatment region News

Doctors at UT Health East Texas and Tyler Cardiovascular Consultants have successfully completed the first complete convergence procedure in East Texas. The minimally invasive procedure is a team effort between a cardiac surgeon and an electrophysiologist to treat patients with chronic atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the heart has an intermittent electrical rhythm that leads to an irregular heartbeat.

Symptoms of Afib include rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness. While drug ablation or catheter ablation can successfully treat Afib, some patients’ symptoms return or continue. Now, with the convergent procedure, these patients are offered another treatment option.

“UT Health East Texas is proud to be the first in the community to offer the convergence procedure,” said Donna Bowers, regional director of cardiology at UT Health East Texas. “This is a procedure that’s new to UT Health East Texas, and we’re especially excited because it offers a new treatment option for those who haven’t had many other local options before.”

The convergent procedure combines two types of ablation, catheter and surgical, to provide more in-depth treatment without open heart surgery. The success rate for correcting persistent Afib in patients going through both stages is reported as 75 to 85% and offers these patients another treatment option locally.

“When patients experience symptoms of Afib for a long time or for more than a year, even after treatment, they are considered very difficult to treat. For the most part, they were left alone, “said Raul Torres, PhD, cardiologist and EP at Tyler CVC. “[The convergent] the approach provides alternative treatments to keep these patients in a normal rhythm. “

This procedure is performed in two stages. During the first stage, the patient is admitted to the hospital and undergoes the surgical part of the procedure. Here, the cardiac surgeon places a small incision just below the sternum to place a camera and an ablation catheter behind the heart. This gives the cardiac surgeon the ability to remove areas of the heart that were previously inaccessible without opening the chest cavity. The patient usually stays in the hospital for two to three days to recover.

“By being able to reach behind the heart, we are able to provide more complete ablation to the patient. This often means more successful surgery with better long-term effects for the patient, “said Andrea Cooley, DO, a cardiothoracic surgeon at UT Health East Texas.

The second stage of the procedure is performed about six weeks later on an outpatient basis. Here, the ER makes a small incision near the patient’s groin and performs traditional catheter ablation to minimize electrical activity that can cause abnormal heart rhythms. Patients usually return home the same day.

“The surgical option helps to complement the interventional aspect of cardiac electrophysiology,” said Ashish Gangasani, PhD, cardiologist and EP at Tyler CVC. “The main purpose of the procedure is to restore the normal rhythm.”

AFib is very common – about one in 10 people over the age of 65 has the disease. However, patients with AFib often have other heart problems, such as heart failure or ruptured valves. Other health problems such as smoking, COPD, sleep apnea, diabetes and obesity significantly increase a patient’s chances of developing AFib.

If you or a loved one notice symptoms of Afib, talk to your primary care doctor. To find a doctor near you, call 903-596-DOCS or visit UTHealthEastTexas.com for more information.

For UT Health East Texas

UT Health East Texas provides care to thousands of patients each year through an extensive regional network that includes 10 hospitals, more than 50 clinics, Olympic Plaza Tower, 13 regional rehabilitation facilities, two free-standing emergency centers, regional home health services covering 41 county, an EMS fleet of more than 50 ambulances and four helicopters and a comprehensive network of seven trauma centers, including the only Level 1 trauma facility in the region.

As a partner with the University of Texas system, UT Health East Texas has a unique position to provide patients with access to cutting-edge research and clinical therapies, while training and educating the next generation of physicians and other health professionals. The nationally recognized UT system also includes the MD Anderson University of Texas Cancer Center in Houston, the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center in Dallas, and three other major university medical centers located throughout the state.

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