Heart-cooling device cuts surgery times

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St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital is now offering cutting-edge, Australian-first cardiac treatment that could provide “game-changing” outcomes for heart patients.

The ground-breaking cryoballoon catheter device is delivering better results faster, especially in cases of atrial fibrillation – or abnormal heart rhythms.

St Andrew’s cardiologists, Dr John Hayes and Dr Michael Adsett were the first in the country to use the new equipment.

“This technology can result in shorter procedure times and a lower likelihood of recurrent atrial fibrillation. For the patient, this means fewer will require a second procedure,” Dr Hayes said.

“We can now treat the condition in the most effective and efficient way, allowing patients to regain their quality of life and engage in activities that may have been difficult before,” he added.

Around 430,000 Australians are affected by atrial fibrillation, a cardiovascular disease that can cause palpitations, fatigue, weakness, exercise intolerance, discomfort or dizziness, due to the heart not pumping efficiently.

The Medtronic Arctic Front Advance Cryoballoon catheter is inserted into the heart's left atrium and then inflated at the opening of the pulmonary vein to block blood flow. The surgeon then delivers liquid refrigerant to cool and scar the heart tissue, with the aim of stopping it from transmitting the electrical signals that cause atrial fibrillation.

“The operation using this technology takes only 60-80 minutes, with an overnight recovery in hospital. Previously patients may have been looking at procedures lasting up to five hours,” Dr Hayes said.

Providing its “world-class” medical specialists with the latest equipment is a key strategy for the Brisbane hospital, said its General Manager Mairi McNeill.

“This approach contributed to St Andrew’s securing the coveted position as Australia’s first hospital to use this remarkable technology.

“We’re pleased to pioneer it in Australia, which could deliver game-changing results for our patients,” she said.

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