Lead extractions now performed at Wise Regional

By Messenger Staff | Published Saturday, July 14, 2012

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Wise Regional Health System in Decatur is one of the first 10 hospitals in the United States to use Unify Quadra Lead defibrillators in treating cardiac patients.

Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are designed to monitor and control heart rhythms in patients by providing electrical signals to the heart to restore proper heart rate.

Electric signals are delivered to the heart via wires, or leads, connected to a power source, or pulse generator, implanted under the skin, usually on the chest wall just under the collarbone.

This new pacing system allows cardiologists a way to better manage cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). With traditional pacemakers/ICDs, just two leads are used. With the Quadra, as the name implies, there are four electrodes on the left ventricular lead, giving the physician more options when synchronizing the heart.

Cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. Trieu Ho is one of the physicians performing this procedure at Wise Regional.

“With this new technology, we are able to position leads more effectively, allowing us more options to optimize the device at the time of implant, ultimately reducing the necessity for additional procedures to reposition leads,” said Dr. Ho. “This is groundbreaking technology, and we are excited to have this technology available at Wise Regional.”

According to the American Heart Association, approximately 400,000 cardiac devices, including pacemakers, are implanted each year in the United States, with about 3 million people worldwide currently with these devices.

Occasionally these devices need to be removed, whether from a damaged lead, scar tissue build up at the lead tip or infection. This is a sensitive procedure, requiring specialized tools and techniques. Only hospital in the region equipped to perform these lead extraction procedures, Wise Regional is now able to treat patients locally, allowing them to stay close to home for cardiac care.

The extraction is performed through a small incision in the upper chest or groin. A sheath is guided through the vein over the lead to the point of contact with the heart. As with any surgical procedure, there can be a build up of scar tissue. Attached to the sheath is a laser which the physician then uses to deliver energy to the area to remove any scar tissue, allowing the lead to be removed. And depending on the reason for the lead removal, new leads may be implanted at the same time.

“This is a complex and technical procedure, requiring extreme precision and accuracy,” Ho said.

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