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March 14, 2011
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Upstate ushers in new era of cardiac care

Upstate University Hospital ushers in new era of cardiac care for Upstate New York

New technology helps doctors perform procedures with greater precision and safety

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Upstate University Hospital has acquired the Stereotaxis Remote Magnetic Navigation System that will allow physicians to perform remotely controlled, image-guided, computerized heart procedures with greater precision and greater safety than traditional methods allow.

Upstate is now one of only three hospitals in the state outside of New York City, using this new technology.

“This technology moves cardiac care to a higher level for patients throughout Upstate New York, and changes dramatically the way our physicians can care for one of the most delicate organs in the human body,” said Daniel Villarreal, professor and chief of cardiology at Upstate.

Upstate will use the system to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of both common and complex cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart beat), one of the most common heart conditions, affecting between 3 million and 5 million people in the United States. Cardiac arrhythmia refers to a disturbance of the heart’s normal rhythm. Symptoms generally include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness and chest pain. Without proper treatment people with this condition are more likely to suffer a stroke and have a higher risk of death.

Traditionally, the treatment of arrhythmias relies on X-ray and electrical signals to manually guide and position relatively inflexible catheters in the heart. Of paramount concern is the potential for damaging heart structures that can occur when the procedure encounters a complex heart chamber anatomy.

With the new technology, a cardiologist in a nearby control room, aided by powerful magnets positioned near the patient and assisted by computer mapping, guides the magnetic-tipped catheter robotically through a labyrinth of blood vessels to the proper location of the heart. The special catheter used in the system is softer and more flexible than a traditional catheter thus reducing the potential for distorting or damaging the heart wall.

The technology also allows the physicians the ability to monitor information, including a digital radiography unit, a mapping system and EKG readings.

“This technology not only provides us with greater precision in these complex procedures, but it enhances patient safety on all levels,” Villarreal said.

The technology benefits patients in many ways by: reducing risk of complications; limiting exposure to radiation (for staff, also); reducing the need for additional invasive procedures; and providing faster recovery times and shorter hospital stays because the treatment is less invasive.

The Stereotaxis system is the centerpiece of Upstate’s new Heart and Vascular Center. Located on the sixth floor of Upstate University Hospital, the center consolidates the hospital’s non-invasive cardiovascular diagnostic testing into one location, with expanded echocardiography capabilities that offer 4D imaging of the heart, an endovascular imaging suite and enhanced patient amenities and family waiting rooms.

“With the Stereotaxis system and our new center dedicated to improving heart health, Upstate now offers patients and families the newest technology in cardiac care in this most dynamic of spaces, all aimed at enhancing the level of care and patient safety,” said John McCabe, M.D., chief executive officer of Upstate University Hospital.

Only about 140 Stereotaxis systems are in operation worldwide.

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