Local MD advances heart surgery

Dr. Randall K. Wolf

Dr. Randall K. Wolf

A typical open-heart surgery requires surgeons to go through a patient’s breast bone, shut the heart off and start using a heart and lung machine.

To combat a type of heart arrhythmia known as atrial fibrillation, Dr. Randall K. Wolf of Community Heart and Vascular Hospital, 8075 N. Shadeland Ave., and the International Atrial Fibrillation Center of Excellence designed a procedure that is minimally invasive and potentially life-changing.

The procedure, the Wolf Mini-Maze, has been practiced for a decade, and Wolf said data reviewed so far shows that zero patients that underwent the procedure have had a blood clot or stroke.

In addition to the elimination of the irregular heartbeat, patients with an abnormal heart rhythm no longer have to take blood thinners.

“There’s a recent study done that shows quality of life improves if you can get off the blood thinner,” Wolf said.

Wolf said with blood thinners, some people have to change their diet, as well as give up some daily activities.

But how do Wolf and others pull it off?

Wolf said most people without a problem besides atrial fibrillation do not want to have open heart surgery.

“So what we were able to do was develop a procedure that is minimally invasive,” he said.

Going in between a patient’s ribs on each side using some of the same instruments used for scoping a knee, a line is made on the back of the heart, disrupting electrical activity that causes the arrhythmia.

The second component of the operation is the removal of the left atrial appendage – a cull de sac that is often a culprit in strokes.

This is all done with the heart beating.

Wolf is a professor of cardiothoracic surgery and director of the Center for Surgical Innovation at the University of Cincinnati.

To read more about Wolf and the procedure, visit www.wolfminimaze.com.

To learn more about various treatments for atrial fibrillation, visit the informational seminar at Community Heart and Vascular Hospital in the main lobby March 23. A complimentary breakfast will begin at 9 a.m., and the main program will begin at 9:30. Call 621-8660 to R.S.V.P.