What is Stereotaxis?
Stereotaxis technology is a computer-aided robotic system that allows physicians to steer catheters into heart tissue with greater accuracy than is available with conventional (manual-guided) cardiac ablation. The omni-directional catheters provide expert maneuverability within the heart, with precision measured in millimeters.
Stereotaxis technology also has softer, more flexible catheters when compared to the relatively stiff catheters used in manual-guided procedures. Such a “gentle touch” may reduce the chances of damaging the heart wall, which can result in extended hospital care.
By combining the benefits of precise, computer-aided robotic guidance with gentle catheter contact, Stereotaxis technology can provide safer cardiac ablations, with better outcomes and shorter patient recovery time.
According to the manufacturer, Stereotaxis has developed an excellent record of safety, including “44 percent less radiation exposure to the patient” compared to conventional x-ray imaging and a “reported rate of major cardiac adverse events of less than 0.1 percent.”
Physicians are able to sit down while performing a Stereotaxis-aided procedure – a welcome benefit with some procedures lasting six hours or more.
The Stereotaxis Odyssey Cinema interface allows the electrophysiologist to obtain real-time three-dimensional images of the patient’s heart and the moving catheter. The physician also has real-time access to vital data such as the patient’s EKG or intracardiac ultrasound and, with proper communication software, is able to collaborate remotely with other physicians.
As Devin Bailey, RN, who assists Dr. Krebs in the EP lab, explains, “The Odyssey interface offers a ‘cockpit environment’ so the physician can see and control the entire procedure. Without the Odyssey interface, the physician must rely on nurses or technicians, stationed at separate monitors, to relay information.”
MVH has the only Odyssey-equipped Stereotaxis in the Dayton area. Since 2003, physicians worldwide have used the technology in more than 40,000 cases. [The technology is used in other types of cardiac interventions, but MVH currently employs it only for cardiac ablation.]
At last count, there are 158 Stereotaxis machines in use worldwide, 85 in the U.S., seven in Ohio and two in Dayton, Ohio. As Dr. Krebs observes, “Those are pretty amazing stats that attest to the level of cardiac care available locally.”
Aside from offering cardiac patients improved care, such advanced technology also enables MVH to attract and retain top-notch medical staff. A Dayton-area native, Dr. Krebs knew he wanted to return to the area to practice. But he also wanted to have the tools required to practice well. Stereotaxis is one such tool now at his disposal.
What Is Cardiac Ablation?
Cardiac ablation is a procedure used to remove heart tissue where faulty electrical pathways are causing abnormal heart rhythms. Such arrhythmias can interfere with the proper flow of blood to and from the heart.
During a cardiac ablation, thin, flexible wires (catheters) are inserted into a vein in the patient’s groin and threaded through to the heart. The cardiologist monitors the procedure via imaging equipment. When defective tissue is found, the physician activates electrodes at the tip of the wires to remove the tissue with heat-generating radio waves. [Another option, cryablation, uses freezing cold to eliminate the tissue.]
Cardiac ablation is not surgery. It is a minimally invasive procedure, which does not involve large incisions. Dr. Krebs describes the procedure as “all done through needle sticks” while the patient is sedated. [In some cases, however, ablation is combined with other surgical procedures such as bypass surgery or valve repair. This was the case when Dick underwent open heart surgery in 2010.]
To explain his sub-specialty as a cardiac electrophysiologist, Dr. Krebs says he’s “an electrician in a world of plumbers.” That is to say, he studies, diagnoses and treats the electrical activities of the heart, whereas other heart specialists focus on blockages and arteries i.e., the heart’s vascular system.
Signs of Arrhythmia
- A fluttering feeling in the chest
- Racing heartbeat
- Slow heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Fainting or near fainting
For more information or to make an appointment, call MVH Cardiology Services at (937) 208-7855.