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Morristown Medical Center Offers New Hybrid Ablation Procedure for Atrial Fibrillation Patients

February 26, 2014

Morristown, NJ – Two physicians at Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute at Morristown Medical Center have combined their unique skills in a new, minimally invasive approach to restore normal heart rhythm in even the most difficult to treat patients suffering from atrial fibrillation (A-fib).

Electrophysiologist (EP) Jonathan Sussman, MD, and cardiothoracic surgeon James Slater, MD, have combined the best of both traditional catheter and surgical ablation treatments at Morristown Medical Center to perform “The Convergent Approach.” Clinical experience has shown that this team approach improves early outcomes for the most challenging patients and reduces procedure times when compared to single disciplinary approaches.

Millions of Americans live with atrial fibrillation (A-fib), a common type of abnormal heartbeat where the heart rhythm is fast and irregular. If not treated, A-fib patients are five times more likely to suffer a stroke if not on anti-coagulants. Physical side effects of A-fib range from shortness of breath to an overall poor quality of life.

“We are pleased to offer the Convergent Approach and provide patients with innovative treatment options that may improve care, decrease recovery times and get them back to enjoying a better quality of life,” said Dr. Sussman.

Leveraging the most advanced technologies from cardiac surgery and electrophysiology, this procedure offers epicardial ablation performed by a cardiac surgeon and endocardial catheter mapping and ablation by an electrophysiologist. The cardiothoracic surgeon performs epicardial ablation through a small abdominal incision, using endoscopy as a guide. This approach offers a thorough ablation in the areas targeted. The EP then can assess these lesions and add further targeted ablation using standard catheter ablation techniques. Major advantages of the hybrid procedure include a higher success rate than standard catheter ablations for the persistent A-fib patient and a less invasive, lower risk profile than a standard cardiac surgery for A-fib (Maze procedure).

“We are proud to be one of two facilities in New Jersey to offer this robust, promising technique to help our cardiovascular patients,” said Dr. Slater.

Dr. Sussman said, “Surgical ablation can cover a lot of territory but with limited ability to assess what’s been done.” He added, “Catheter ablation lets us assess and fine tune results but not necessarily ablate as thoroughly. This brand new, combined, two-step procedure offers the best of both.”“This procedure is a major triumph of technology that offers patients who have not done well with other interventions a much better chance of controlling their A-fib,” stated Dr. Slater.“We have found the patients’ post-operative pain is minimized, risks of complications are mitigated and recovery is expedited,” remarked Dr. Sussman.

The Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute at Morristown Medical Center, part of Atlantic Health System, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary of performing cardiac surgery and interventional cardiology.  Morristown Medical Center’s Department of Cardiovascular Medicine encompasses the largest cardiovascular surgical program in New Jersey, with over 1,400 surgeries in 2013, and has nationally-recognized expertise in each of cardiology’s major disciplines. A state-of-the-art, five-story, 230,000 square-foot building situated on the Morristown Medical Center campus, Gagnon is dedicated to meeting the challenges of adult heart and vascular diseases. It includes eight operating rooms (two hybrid), five catheterization labs, three electrophysiology labs and advanced non-invasive imaging capability. The cardiac rhythm management program at Morristown Medical Center remains at the forefront of established and investigative approaches to the evaluation and management of the most complex abnormal heart disturbances. The cardiac electrophysiologists perform more than 2,000 procedures annually.

About Morristown Medical Center

Morristown Medical Center, located in Morristown, NJ, is part of Atlantic Health System, one of the largest non-profit health care systems in New Jersey. Accredited by The Joint Commission, the hospital was recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a top hospital nationwide for cardiology, heart surgery, gynecology and geriatrics. Morristown Medical Center also ranked as a “Best Regional Hospital” for cancer, diabetes & endocrinology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics as well as gastroenterology & GI Surgery, nephrology, pulmonology and urology. Morristown Medical Center’s Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute performs more cardiac surgeries than any other hospital in New Jersey, placing its cardiac program in the top two percent in the country. Morristown Medical Center is verified as a Level I Regional Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons and designated a Level II by the state of New Jersey and was re-designated a Magnet Hospital for Excellence in Nursing Service, the highest level of recognition by American Nurses Credentialing Center for facilities that provide acute care services, a distinction awarded to less than five percent of U.S. hospitals. Learn more >