INDIANAPOLIS – Surgeons at St. Francis Hospital & Health Centers are among the first in the nation to use a new device and procedure to reduce the risk of stroke for patients undergoing heart surgery.
The system is called the AtriClip Gillinov-Cosgrove Left Atrial Appendage Exclusion and it recently was given approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is used to diminish the risk of stroke related to cardiac arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation. These abnormal heart rhythms occur more frequently with aging and are especially common around the time of surgery.
Led by Marc Gerdisch, M.D., director of cardiothoracic surgery, the team successfully implanted the device in a 79-year-old man yesterday (June 28) at the St. Francis Heart Center. Surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic also performed a similar procedure the same day.
“This is an exciting, safe and effective therapy,” said Gerdisch, co-director of the St. Francis Heart Valve Center. “During the FDA trial for the Atriclip, we recognized the advantages it offered over the available technology.”
St. Francis enrolled 17 patients during ArtiClip’s trial phase – the largest number of participants in the national study.
Here’s how it works: The rectangular-shaped device is implanted around the left atrial appendage, a muscular pouch. The AtriClip is then clamped, preventing blood flow into and out of the appendage.
“It’s estimated that as much as 90 percent of blood clots occurring in patients with atrial fibrillation, form in the appendage,” said Gerdisch, a partner at Cardiac Surgery Associates. “If a clot detaches, it can travel through the bloodstream and cause a stroke.”
Patients with arrhythmias like afib have a significantly higher stroke risk than those without the condition, according to the landmark Framingham Heart Study.
AtriClip is manufactured by the AtriCure, Inc., a medical device company headquartered in Cincinnati.
Use of AtriClip builds on other breakthroughs in cardiovascular care at St. Francis. Gerdisch and his surgical team were the first in the world to use the CorMatrix Extracellular Matrix (ECM) ™ to modify and repair cardiac structures, allowing heart tissue to re-grow inside the beating hearts of surgery patients.
The ECM is a unique biomaterial that harnesses the body’s innate ability to repair damaged heart tissue. Over time, it is replaced by the patients’ own tissue. You can learn more about this at www.cardiactissuerepair.net
The St. Francis Heart Center is the only round-the-clock comprehensive heart center in south-central Indiana, providing everything from open-heart surgery to valve repair. For more information, go to www.stfrancishospitals.org/heart.