Keeping the heart safe

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St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital in Brisbane offers ground-breaking technology for safer heart procedures

St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital is the first hospital in the Southern Hemisphere to acquire ground-breaking technology that provides a safer way for patients to undergo heart procedures by dramatically reducing radiation.

St Andrew’s has invested $1 million in the MediGuide Technology, which will assist specialists during complex electrophysiology (EP) procedures to diagnose problems with the heart’s rhythm (arrhythmias) and to provide treatment therapies such as ablation and implant of cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) devices (pacemakers and defibrillators).

MediGuide incorporates technology that is similar to a GPS (global positioning system) in a car satellite navigation device or smartphone.

During conventional EP procedures, a continuous series of live X-ray images of the heart (fluoroscopy) is needed to show specialists the real-time position of electrode catheters inside the heart. Using MediGuide, only a brief series of recorded fluoroscopic images is required.

The MediGuide Technology uses miniature sensors embedded in catheters and other devices to superimpose a three-dimensional (3-D) visualisation of these devices over the prerecorded images to show the specialist their precise location inside the patient.

By reducing the time live X-rays are used, radiation exposure is cut substantially – overseas experience shows decreases of up to 90 percent using MediGuide can be achieved, depending on the type and duration of a procedure.

St Andrew’s Cardiologist and a Director of Queensland Cardiovascular Group, Dr John Hayes, performed the first EP procedures at St Andrew’s using MediGuide on 28 January, in the presence of Dr Philipp Sommer, associate professor at the University of Leipzig, Germany, who has utilised the technology in more than 350 cases.

“We are excited that St Andrew’s is the first hospital not only in Australia, but in the Asia-Pacific region and the southern hemisphere, to have this technology,” Dr Hayes said. “Rather than using GPS satellites in the sky we have, in effect, a couple of satellites in the X-ray equipment using lowfrequency electromagnetic signals to track miniature sensors in the catheters and other devices to guide us.

“Reducing radiation exposure to patients is very important because the more radiation anybody is exposed to, the greater the cumulative risk of developing cancers. Patients with cardiovascular disease may have to undergo many tests and procedures that involve radiation in their lifetimes.”

Deputy Chief Medical Officer for UnitingCare Health and Director of Medical Services at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, Dr Christian Rowan, said the acquisition of MediGuide demonstrated the hospital’s commitment to innovation in healthcare and achieving world-class results for patients.

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