Skip to Main Content

Technique treats risky heart rhythm without surgery

January 11, 2010

The Yale Medical Group Electrophysiology and Cardiac Arrhythmia Service is the first in Connecticut to offer a novel non-surgical approach to treat a life-threatening heart rhythm disorder called ventricular tachycardia. Ventricular tachycardia, also known as VT or V-TACH, is an abnormal fast heart rate that originates from the heart's lower chambers and is a major cause of cardiac arrest and sudden death.

The procedure, called epicardial VT ablation, targets the origins of the abnormal rhythm on the outer surface of the heart without the need for extensive surgery. Using a small needle puncture, a catheter is advanced beneath the rib cage onto the outer surface of the heart where regions of abnormal electrical activity are eliminated using radiofrequency energy emitted from the catheter tip. Any alternative approaches to reaching those abnormal regions of the heart would require more extensive open chest surgery.

This novel treatment was recently used on a 55-year-old Connecticut man with a long history of VT. Since the epicardial ablation, his heart rhythm has returned to normal.

"Ventricular tachycardia is a very dangerous rhythm that can result in multiple painful defibrillator shocks, passing out or even death," said Yale Medical Group electrophysiologist Joseph Akar, MD, PhD, director of the Complex Ablation Program at Yale-New Haven Hospital. "It is often resistant to medications. When this arrhythmia originates from the epicardium—the outer surface of the heart—epicardial VT ablation is the most effective minimally invasive method of treatment. Any other modality would require more extensive surgery and lower success rates."

Submitted by Mark Santore on January 09, 2014