The Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery works closely with the world-renowned Division of Electrophysiology at St. Luke's-Roosevelt to offer the full range of interventional and surgical procedures for the diagnosis and treatment of all diseases of the cardiac conduction system.

Atrial Fibrillation Surgery

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm which requires medication to control rapid heart rates and blood thinners to prevent stroke and peripheral embolism (blood clots). It affects 0.4% of the population, 5-10% of patients over the age of 65, and almost 40% of patients with valvular disease. Our electrophysiologists offer the full range of treatment for atrial fibrillation including percutaneous methods of ablating the rhythm and restoring a normal rhythm.

Medical treatments for atrial fibrillation are frequently inadequate in converting patients into normal sinus rhythm. Furthermore, the medications to control heart rate and thin the blood have significant side effects, which patients at times do not tolerate. In patients already undergoing heart surgery, there is a simple procedure, which can be performed to eliminate atrial fibrillation.

At St. Luke's-Roosevelt, our surgeons perform surgical radiofrequency ablation during open heart surgery in order to abolish atrial fibrillation and restore normal sinus rhythm. The procedure adds approximately 15-20 minutes to the existing operation and has a 75-80% success rate in eliminating atrial fibrillation.

For patients who have failed all medical and interventional treatment, surgical radiofrequency ablation can be performed through a 5-6 cm incision in the right chest. This operation offers patients with no other options a minimally invasive surgical approach.

Robotic Biventricular Pacemaker Placement

It has been shown in several recent studies that patients with severe heart failure and conduction abnormalities benefit from a procedure termed biventricular pacing. This procedure involves placing a pacemaker in both the left and right ventricles. Although the right ventricular pacing lead can be placed quite easily through percutaneous approaches, the left ventricular lead can only successfully be placed 70% of the time. This has left many patients with no other options.

At St. Luke's-Roosevelt, our surgeons have pioneered an operation using the robot to place left ventricular pacing leads without incisions. The operation has been successful 100% of the time and may have other advantages over percutaneous approaches. Unlike, the percutaneous approach, it does require general anesthesia.

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