Extreme cold helps heart patients at Greenslopes
Patients suffering irregular heartbeat now have access to more effective treatment, with the arrival of cryoablation at Greenslopes Private Hospital.
The Ramsay Way 2019 | 02 11
The procedure uses extreme cold to destroy the heart cells
that cause atrial fibrillation, which is an arrhythmia that can
lead to severe cardiac issues.
Nurse unit manager Emma Neylan said: “Arrhythmias are
abnormal rhythms of the heart that can cause many health
issues including heart failure, exercise intolerance, fatigue,
and even death, depending on the type of rhythm.”
The technique involves the doctor inserting a balloon
catheter into the heart chambers and blood vessels, guided
by medical imaging. Once the catheter is in the correct
position, a cold gas is used to inflate the balloon to freeze
and disable the unwanted heart cells.
Electrophysiologist Dr Vincent Deen has helped to bring the
new procedure to the hospital.
“I think this procedure is going to be more effective in terms
of recurrence. Trials have shown it’s as effective as radio
frequency techniques, but quicker,” Dr Deen said.
“It’s easier to do so we can undertake two or three
procedures in the same time it takes to do the radio
frequency case. This means the lab can put more cases
through and we can help more patients,” Dr Deen said.
The procedure takes an hour and a half and is
recommended for patients when prescribed
medication fails to work.
Emergency patient accidentally achieves major
heart milestone at Lake Macquarie Private Hospital
A woman showing signs of heart attack has unintentionally become the 8,000th patient to undergo a
bypass procedure at Lake Macquarie Private Hospital.
The cardiac milestone case was originally scheduled for
another non-urgent patient, but the woman who required
emergency bypass surgery had to be treated before the pre-planned
Senior cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Allen James, who
performed the 8000th procedure, was also working at the
hospital 25 years ago when the first cardiac bypass was
“8,000 is a fairly big number for a regional hospital in
Australia. But we just concentrated on the operating, like we
do in every case,” Dr James said.
“We’ve got a wonderful unit; I’m still working with people who
were involved with the first cardiac cases here at the hospital.”
The scrub nurse who assisted in the 8000th case, Sharon
Scotman, also assisted during the first case back in 1994
alongside senior clinical perfusionist Ray Swart.
Many of the intensive care specialists and nursing staff have
also been at Lake Macquarie Private Hospital since the
service was first offered.
“I think Newcastle people are very loyal, they are loyal to the
city and they are also loyal to the unit they work at and it is
a unit of excellence really,” Dr James said.
“The unit includes anaesthesia, perfusion, ICU, ward
and theatre staff as well as cardiology and cath lab staff.
It’s a great team,” Dr James said.
Less invasive heart
procedure for patients
at St George Private
Cardiac patients at St George
Private Hospital now have
access to a less invasive
alternative to open heart
surgery: Transcatheter Aortic
Valve Implantation (TAVI).
The hospital has started offering the procedure to
certain patients suffering from aortic stenosis, which is
characterised by the narrowing of the aortic valve opening.
Interventional cardiologist Dr James Roy said aortic
stenosis is a common condition for people aged in their 70s
and 80s and is caused by wear and tear of the aortic valve
over their lifetime.
“If the aortic valve is severely narrowed, there is often strain
on the heart. The typical symptoms from this are shortness
of breath, chest pain or fainting,” Dr Roy said.
Traditionally, patients with the condition have open heart
surgery which is more invasive and often involves five to
seven days of recovery in hospital followed by a few weeks
at home before returning to normal activities.
TAVI offers a different approach, allowing specialists to gain
access through the groin and replace the valve through the
femoral artery. Historically, the procedure has been used in
patients for whom open heart surgery is considered risky.
“There is a lower risk of stroke and a quicker recovery time
that is a huge advance for patients who are unable to be
treated with surgery. The trade-off is a slightly higher risk of
needing a pacemaker,” Dr Roy said.
St George Private Hospital’s TAVI heart team includes two
interventional cardiologists, a cardiothoracic surgeon and
an experienced anaesthetist.
Two randomised clinical trials were recently published in
the New England Journal of Medicine, showing TAVI could
potentially benefit more patients than once expected.
The first TAVI case was performed in France in 2002, but
a combination of advancements in technology and better
access means the procedure has become more common.
per year at
Anton Huynh, Ray Colman, Ray Swart, Allen James, Sharon Scotman, Karen Sidebottom-Wade, Tim Stanley,
Elaine Granger, Jenny Potter and Sue Keir.