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Aurora St. Luke's Physicians Use Cutting-Edge Robotics To Treat Arrhythmias

Thursday, October 23, 2008

MILWAUKEE, WI -- Electrophysiologists, physicians who fix electrical problems of the heart, or arrhythmias, do these procedures while the heart is beating. They must pinpoint where an electrical malfunction is taking place, reach that location with a catheter and then burn or freeze the bad circuitry, all while the heart is moving. Now Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center has a new robotic system that allows physicians to perform such complex procedures with greater precision.

The tool is the Sensei Robotic Catheter system, and St. Luke’s has the only one in Wisconsin. Used for minimally invasive catheter-based heart procedures, the robotic arm and flexible catheter system enables physicians to maneuver into places in the heart unreachable by traditional methods. The system can cut off 20 to 30 percent from procedural times for complex arrhythmias, which typically take 5 to 6 hours to complete.

The robotic system also decreases physicians’ repeated exposure to radiation. The portable robotic control center can be stationed outside of the patient treatment area where small amounts of radiation are used to image the heart.

“The Sensei robotic navigation system gives us better navigation of the heart, better efficacy and less radiation,” says Dr. Jasbir Sra, director of St. Luke’s electrophysiology department. “This changes the way we perform complex cardiac procedures, especially those for atrial fibrillation in the left heart.”

Atrial fibrillation is an arrhythmia that affects about 2.4 million Americans, most of them over age 60. With this complex arrhythmia the atria or upper chambers of the heart beat rapidly and never adequately fill the ventricles or lower chambers with the blood. This condition is responsible for 75,000 strokes each year because of blood clot formation within the quivering atria, and these numbers continue to escalate as the population grows older.

Prior to the introduction of robotic technology, the majority of electrophysiology (EP) procedures were done using a manual technique requiring physicians to perform a series of complex manipulations at one end of the catheter with inadequate assurance that the tip of the catheter would respond as desired while inside a patient’s heart. As a result, achieving stable contact at every anatomic site within the heart necessary for a successful EP procedure could be difficult.

About the Sensei System
The Sensei system is designed to help facilitate complex cardiac procedures by providing physicians with accurate and stable control. The robotic catheter navigation technology incorporates fluoroscopic, intracardiac ultrasound, 3D surface map and patient electrocardiogram data into one portable workstation. The workstation can be moved among catheter lab suites. The new Sensei Robotic Catheter system is approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

About Aurora Health Care
Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers care at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.


Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center’s newly installed Sensei Robotic Catheter system gives patients more options for treating complex arrhythmias. St. Luke’s electrophysiologists the left to right are: Dr. Vikram Nangia, Dr. Jasbir Sra, Dr. Indrajit Choudhuri and Dr. Mohammad Mortada.

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Contact: Myrle Croasdale (414-649-3917)

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