Electrophysiologist Chee Kim, M.D., FACC, has performed the first cardiac cryoablations in Western New York at the Gates Vascular Institute.
Cryoablation is a new, minimally invasive form of therapy, which is used to treat patients with atrial fibrillation - a heart rhythm disorder - by disabling the cells in the heart that cause the irregular rhythm. Once performed, regular heart rhythm is restored and further episodes prevented.
How is Cryoablation Performed?
As its name indicates, this procedure utilizes extreme cold to freeze and disable the heart cells causing the abnormal rhythm. A physician inserts a balloon catheter into a blood vessel in the leg and threads it to the heart. Once the physician has the balloon catheter at the desired area of the heart, extreme cold is delivered through the catheter, permanently disabling the problematic heart cells.
"Before this treatment was available, we utilized either medication or a heat-based treatment utilizing radiofrequency ablation catheters to manage atrial fibrillation," Kim said. "The beauty of cryoablation is that we can isolate the target areas in the heart quickly, with higher success rates and lower complication rates as compared to traditional radiofrequency energy."
The first two patients treated in Western New York were a 51-year-old man who had been on multiple medications that failed to regulate his heart for years, and David Cagwin, age 67, a disabled Vietnam veteran who had previously undergone heat-based radiofrequency ablation, which was unsuccessful.
"I've been dealing with atrial fibrillation for three years now," Cagwin said. "When Dr. Kim told me about this new procedure and that I needed it now, I was anxious to try something new. My whole experience at the Gates Vascular Institute was terrific. Dr. Kim and the staff couldn't have been nicer or more professional, and they really put me and my wife at ease throughout the whole procedure."
Since opening in March of 2012, the Gates Vascular Institute has been the site of several "cardiac firsts" in the region, including the first transcatheter aortic valve replacement, the first to implant the smallest implantable cardiac monitoring device available - the Reveal LINQ Insertable Cardiac Monitor, and the first to implant the new Boston Scientific S-ICD System, the world's first and only commercially available subcutaneous implantable defibrillator for the treatment of patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.
"It is truly exciting to introduce this cutting-edge therapeutic to our community in Western New York; our families and friends with atrial fibrillation no longer have to travel outside of this area for novel approaches to ameliorate their arrhythmia," said Jeffrey Holt, MPA, vice president and chief operating officer, Gates Vascular Institute.