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Heart surgeon to discuss treatment options for atrial fibrillation

| Date Posted: 4/29/2010

FAYETTEVILLE – Andy C. Kiser, M.D., of the FirstHealth Cardiovascular & Thoracic Center, and several of his Convergent Procedure patients will present a free interactive program on treatment options for atrial fibrillation Tuesday, May 11, at 6 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 4025 Sycamore Dairy Road, Fayetteville.

There are many questions about atrial fibrillation: What is it? Why and how should it be treated? Medications, ablations, surgery – the confusing menu of treatment options is as baffling as the troublesome condition. Patients have many treatment options, including the Convergent Procedure.

Dr. Kiser, who led the development of the Ex-Maze procedure for atrial fibrillation, and electrophysiologist Mark Landers, M.D., combined their expertise to perform the groundbreaking Convergent Procedure on Jan. 23, 2009. Each physician had performed his specialty (the Ex-Maze by Dr. Kiser and the percutaneous endocardial catheter ablation by Dr. Landers) separately numerous times before, but never together until the January 2009 collaboration.

“The Convergent Procedure is significant, because we can now treat atrial fibrillation without chest incisions and because by working with the electrophysiologist during the procedure, we can do a complete atrial fibrillation treatment,” Dr.  Kiser says.

“The power of this new procedure is that we have heart surgeons and cardiologists taking tried-and-true technologies and working together to provide the best option for the treatment of atrial fibrillation,” says Dr. Landers.

Atrial fibrillation (a-fib), which affects an estimated five million people, is the most common type of heart rhythm disturbance. It is the rapid, uncoordinated beating of the atria, the two upper chambers of the heart. The atria quiver instead of beating in rhythm when the electrical impulses that cause them to contract travel through the heart in chaotic fashion.

Some people with a-fib are severely debilitated by weakness, shortness of breath or pain while others have no symptoms at all.

The union of the Ex-Maze procedure and catheter ablation provides many benefits to the patient including:

  • Elimination of chest incisions
  • Quicker recovery time
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Minimal scarring
  • Ablation testing at the time of the Ex-Maze to confirm appropriate treatment endpoints

During the Convergent Procedure, the Ex-Maze portion is performed through a small incision in the abdomen while a small catheter is inserted in the large vein in the groin for the catheter ablation.

“This eliminates the need for sometimes painful incisions in the chest and allows instantaneous confirmation of the success of the procedure,” says Dr. Kiser.  “This approach allows the patient to have a quicker recovery and also allows us to add new lesions to parts of the heart that we couldn’t reach before. In addition, it allows patients who travel from great distances for the treatment to be able to fly to the area instead of having to drive.”

The Convergent Procedure can be used to treat all three types of atrial fibrillation, but focuses on those patients who have been difficult to treat with traditional methods.

For more information on the Convergent Procedure or to register for the May 11 presentation, call (800) 213-3284. Online registration also is available at under Classes and Events.

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