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Rhode Island Hospital Among First in New England to Perform EX-MAZE Procedure for Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation in High-Risk Patients

8/22/2013

Procedure delivers energy to both inside and outside the heart

   Antony Chu, MD
  Antony Chu, MD

Rhode Island Hospital is one of the first hospitals in New England, and the only hospital in the Boston region, to perform a novel procedure designed to deliver energy to both the inside and outside of the heart to treat atrial fibrillation (A-fib). One of the first physicians in the country to perform this procedure, Antony Chu, MD, was recruited as director of complex ablation at Rhode Island Hospital to bring this state-of-the-art cardiac therapy to Rhode Island.

The procedure, known as “EX-MAZE,” is a minimally invasive surgical procedure designed to treat patients with long-standing A-fib. Many of these patients have had prior failed therapies including patients who have had prior cardiac ablation procedures. The technique uses radiofrequency energy to create “lines of block,” which modify cardiac electrical connections from blood vessels (known as pulmonary veins) attached to the top left chamber of the heart (left atrium). Radiofrequency energy is delivered both on the inside (endocardial) and outside (epicardial) surfaces of the heart. This technique effectively blocks the electrical signals from the pulmonary veins that cause the atrial fibrillation.

“This novel approach to a common but complex problem is great news for patients with long-standing atrial fibrillation,” Chu said. “For this patient population, all other medical therapy and traditional cardiac ablation approaches have been exhausted. This approach is not only minimally invasive (i.e. does not involve cardiac bypass), but also offers excellent outcomes with short recovery times.”

Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm), affecting more than 2.6 million people in the U.S. The incidence of A-fib increases with age, and risk factors include high blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and heart disease.

“EX-MAZE provides our patients with a second chance at living without atrial fibrillation – that’s something many of them didn’t have before,” Chu said. “The recovery period is much shorter than open-heart procedures, and our patients are back to enjoying their lives in a short time.”

Rhode Island Hospital is the only hospital in the Boston area to offer the EX-MAZE procedure to its patients suffering from severe atrial fibrillation.