SwedishAmerican first in Northern Illinois to perform new laser heart procedure

SwedishAmerican first in Northern Illinois to perform new laser heart procedure


Heart surgeons at SwedishAmerican Health System last week performed a breakthrough laser technology procedure designed to provide pain relief for heart patients. “The new TMR (Transmyocardial Revascularization) laser surgical procedure offers hope for coronary artery disease patients suffering from severe, stable angina pain, who are not treatable by other medical and surgical modalities. Results of a multi-center trial indicated that angina improved in 72 percent of the TMR patients, compared to 13 percent of the medically-treated patients,” states Nancy Harvey, administrative director of the SAHS Heart Center.

The TMR laser is a high-energy carbon dioxide (CO2)-powered laser that is used to burn a series of tiny channels into the heart muscle to allow oxygen-rich blood to flow into the heart muscle and relieve the pain. In many cases, the patients are bedridden or unable to take even a brief walk without experiencing significant chest pain before the procedure.

According to John C. Myers, M.D., Heart Center medical director, who assisted with the first procedure, “The procedure is used during Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) surgery to reach areas too distant to bypass or, independently, as an off-pump, minimally-invasive procedure performed on the beating heart.”

Jeff Johnson, O.R. team leader, reports, “We completed a TMR in conjunction with a coronary artery bypass on a 49-year-old patient. Fourteen channels were created by laser to increase blood flow to the heart muscle and relieve the patient’s pain.”

Chief surgeon Thomas J. Steiglitz, M.D., explains, “During the surgery, the laser device is placed on the wall of the heart. The computer-controlled laser is synchronized with the heartbeat and is triggered to fire in between heartbeats, when the ventricle is filled with blood and the heart is relatively still and likely insensitive to stimuli.”

The procedure can also be accomplished in a less invasive method than typical coronary artery bypass procedures on the beating heart. The entire procedure takes less than two hours to perform.

Candidates for TMR are patients with severe coronary artery disease, who have not improved with drug therapy. Many have severe angina (heart pain) that is not treatable with angioplasty or bypass surgery.

Trials on the TMR procedure have shown an ability to increase blood flow into the heart muscle over a period of up to a year following the procedure.

Dr. Myers says the technology will be able to help many people in the region, who have exhausted other options in their efforts to get relief from their symptoms.

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