Friday, December 28, 2007

Heart Center celebrates program milestone

Members of the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center's Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) Program recently celebrated a program milestone — the 100th alcohol septal ablation.

Alcohol septal ablation is an innovative procedure used to treat patients who have a form of heart disease called hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy. Mass General Hospital clinicians also have set a safety standard in reaching this goal, performing these 100 septal ablations without any procedural mortality.

Performed by interventional cardiologists, this minimally invasive treatment was introduced in London 13 years ago. Michael A. Fifer, MD, director of the Mass General Hospital Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, brought the technique to Mass General Hospital nine years ago.

The procedure is designed to remove a small amount of thickened heart muscle that blocks the flow of blood out of the heart. Fifer and colleague Igor Palacios, MD, thread a catheter up the femoral artery into the aorta and into the tiny branch of the coronary arteries that feeds the critically located segment of heart muscle.

Danita M. Yoerger Sanborn, MD, and Michael H. Picard, MD, of the Cardiac Ultrasound Laboratory, then perform a special type of echocardiography to confirm the correct location for alcohol injection. After the procedure, a great majority of patients experience markedly reduced symptoms.

Alcohol septal ablation is just one facet of the comprehensive care offered by the HCM Program, which is a multidisciplinary effort that incorporates the expertise of the Mass General Hospital Heart Center Arrhythmia Service, led by Theofanie Mela, MD; Cardiac Genetics, led by Calum A. MacRae, MD, PhD; Cardiac Imaging, led by Suhny Abbara, MD; and Cardiac Surgery, led by Gus J. Vlahakes, MD.

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