Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center Pioneers Hybrid Procedure to Improve Lives of People with Atrial Fibrillation

June 06, 2016

Milwaukee, Wis. – Physicians from Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center have streamlined a new treatment option for patients suffering from atrial fibrillation (AFib) that has proven to reduce the risks of stroke and heart failure compared to other treatment options.

The hybrid ablation technique, pioneered by Dr. Jasbir Sra, medical director of the Aurora Health Care’s Atrial Fibrillation Ablation Center, and Dr. David Kress, chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center and director of the Surgical Arrhythmia Program, is a single procedure to treat symptomatic cases of AFib, which involves the upper chambers of the heart. 

Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center is the only hospital in Wisconsin and one of only a few in the nation to offer this specific procedure to patients. It’s a technique made possible by a truly collaborative clinical environment, led by expert physicians at Aurora Health Care.

The approach combines two treatment options – catheter-based care and minimally invasive surgery – into a single procedure, which has resulted in higher success rates in eliminating the arrhythmia, better long-term results and improved quality of life for patients.

Under the hybrid model, an electrophysiologist and cardiothoracic surgeon work together to ablate the heart to restore its normal rhythm. The surgeon’s ablations take place outside of the heart, while the electrophysiologist uses a catheter inside of the heart to create scar tissue. The two ablations block the damaged electrical pathways that are causing the irregular heartbeat.

Over the past five years, more than 150 patients have undergone the procedure at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, and patients have experienced fewer bleeds, fewer strokes and fewer cases of heart failure following the procedure versus catheter ablation.

“The hybrid ablation procedure is changing the way we are able to care for people with AFib,” said Dr. David Kress, cardiothoracic surgeon and co-author of recent reports on the success of the program at Aurora Health Care. “We’re able to help people heal faster with less discomfort and reduce future instances of arrhythmias through the technique. It’s a model other health care systems across the country are looking at as they try to treat this condition across the country.”

Through the success of the hybrid ablation technique, Aurora St. Luke’s Atrial Fibrillation Ablation Center has become a Global Training Center for this new procedure, with physicians from around the globe coming to Milwaukee to learn about the new standard of care. The center will feature world-class technology and curriculum to help health care experts treat patients with AFib.

More than five million Americans suffer from heart arrhythmias, with AFib being the most common. AFib can occur in brief episodes or be a permanent condition. It can be a deadly condition, increasing a person’s risk for stroke four to five times as much as person without AFib. The condition results in more than 750,000 hospitalizations each year in the U.S., and also contributes to more than 130,000 deaths, according to the CDC.

Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center has been a leader in heart health since the 1960s. The team of experts has pioneered a number of firsts, including:

  • A leader in Ventricular Assistant Devices (VAD)s installation in patients with Advanced Heart Failure, having installed more than 700 VADs since 1995.
  • The first atrial defibrillator implant in the U.S., the first catheter ablation in Wisconsin and the first Epicardial Catheter Ablation of AFib in America.
  • The first device implant in Wisconsin to prevent strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation.
  • The first health care provider in Wisconsin to pioneer the hybrid ablation technique to treat patients with atrial fibrillation.
  • One of the few hospitals in the nation to receive a three-star rating from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS).


About Aurora Health Care

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin-area health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve health care quality. Aurora offers services at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Aurora is Wisconsin's most comprehensive health care provider and the state's largest private employer. Aurora serves more than 1.2 million patients every year via a comprehensive network of facilities, services and providers, including 15 hospitals, more than 150 clinics, 70 pharmacies and more than 32,000 amazing Caregivers. As evidenced by more than 400 active clinical trials, Aurora is dedicated to delivering innovations to provide the best possible care today, and to define the best care for tomorrow. Get helpful health and wellness information via the Aurora MyHealth blog, our Facebook page, our Twitter account and our Pinterest account.  

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