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Morristown Medical Center First in Region to Offer New FDA-Approved Ablation Therapy

March 13, 2014

Morristown, NJ – Morristown Medical Center has become the first hospital in New Jersey to offer the THERMOCOOL® SMARTTOUCH® Catheter, the first catheter approved by the FDA in the U.S. to feature direct contact force technology for the treatment of patients with atrial fibrillation, or Afib. This novel innovation enables doctors to accurately control the amount of contact force applied to the heart wall during radiofrequency catheter ablation procedures.

Consistent and stable application of contact force against the heart wall has been demonstrated to have a significant impact on patient outcomes during catheter ablation. The THERMOCOOL® SMARTTOUCH® Catheter provides critical contact force information to help confirm that we are applying the intended amount of pressure with the catheter throughout the duration of the procedure so that optimal outcomes can be achieved.“This technology stands to improve success rates and minimize potential complications during ablation procedures,” said Stephen L. Winters, MD, director of the cardiac rhythm management program at Morristown Medical Center. “Without this technology, doctors have to estimate the amount of force being applied to the heart wall through other indirect measures that have been shown not to be as effective.”

During catheter ablation, a minimally invasive catheter ablation procedure, doctors insert a therapeutic electrode catheter through a small incision in the groin where it is then weaved up to the heart through a blood vessel. Once it reaches the desired chamber of the heart, the catheter delivers radiofrequency energy to the heart wall to create lesions that block faulty electrical impulses that can cause heart rhythm disorders. Providing doctors with the ability to apply stable contact force during catheter ablation has been shown to improve patient outcomes as poor tissue contact may result in incomplete lesion formation that could result in the need for additional treatment. Furthermore, too much contact force may result in tissue injury, which may lead to complications. 

Morristown’s first patient was Christina Trimarco, a 48-year old woman from Belleville, New Jersey suffering from very frequent palpitations. The abnormal heart beats were due to ventricular premature beats arising in the right ventricular outflow tract, close to the region where blood is pumped from the heart to the lungs. Since more than 40% of all her heart beats were of such a nature, she was at risk to develop severe heart muscle pumping weakness known as cardiomyopathy, in addition to her unpleasant symptoms. Twenty-four hours after surgery, she felt well and has had no more extra heart beats documented with monitoring.“

I couldn’t believe after living with an extra 30,000 heartbeats a day for two years, my heart actually feels normal again,” said Trimarco.

Many individuals with premature heart beats are bothered by awareness of unpleasant heart beats. Often, patients with such extra heart beats are asymptomatic. In most cases, these heart rhythm conditions are harmless; however, they can occasionally be a harbinger of more serious problems ahead. Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive and effective approach to eliminate this problem. In a clinical trial, the use of the THERMOCOOL® SMARTTOUCH® Catheter approach has also demonstrated a significant improvement in ablation results of another common arrhythmia known as paroxysmal atrial fibrillation to as high as 88%  at one year. The electrophysiologists at Morristown Medical center are now using this new technology to perform ablations of the sort Ms. Trinmarco underwent, as well as to treat atrial fibrillation. Morristown Medical Center is one of very few medical centers across the country to have availability of the THERMOCOOL® SMARTTOUCH® Catheter technology at this time.  With expertise in all areas of arrhythmia evaluation and management, the cardiac rhythm management team 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. 

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