ORLANDO (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) -- Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is a condition that causes a person's heart to beat out of rhythm. It can cause severe discomfort and may even be a risk factor for stroke. Now, cardiologists are turning to robotic technology to treat patients.
Joyce Liptrap says, "I would be awakened in the night, or be sitting in the chair, just sitting still doing nothing, or sleeping, and it would just start pounding in my heart."
Liptrap had atrial fibrillation, a problem with the electrical system in her heart. A life-long fluttering feeling was now a serious concern for her and her husband, Ronnie.
"I told Ronnie I wasn't sure if I was dying. I wasn't sure what was happening. A couple of episodes got really bad," she explains.
Cardiac electro-physiologist at the Florida Hospital Cardiovascular Institute Usman Siddiqui, MD needed to perform a procedure called ablation.
Dr. Siddiqui says, "Usually, we either apply heat energy or cold energy to freeze or burn the tissue that is causing the problem."
Dr. Siddiqui used a new robotic system with magnetic navigation that allowed him to operate two devices at the same time. It's called a Stereotaxis V-Drive Duo system. One robotic arm delivered the catheter that allowed doctors to visualize the area.
"This is a special kind of ultrasound machine or ultrasound catheter that we put inside the heart so we can have real time pictures," explains Dr. Siddiqui.
The other robotic arm delivered the catheter to ablate the area.
Liptrap says, "As soon as I woke up, I knew I felt different. I really didn't feel the heaviness that I had felt."
Dr. Siddiqui says the catheters are very soft, almost like noodles, so there is very little chance of creating a hole or perforation during the procedure. He says the biggest benefit to patients is increased safety and accuracy. Also, in most cases, the procedure can be performed in less time, which may mean a shorter hospital stay.