Press Release - August 27, 2004

For Immediate Release

August 27, 2004

John Moore
Media Relations
(903) 531-4542


Procedure Provides Relief From Short-Circuits

TYLER, TX – Cardiac patients in the region who suffer from atrial fibrillation, an abnormality of the electrical system of the heart, normally would be treated one of two ways. With a sternotomy and cardiopulmonary bypass, which is the painful process of opening the chest to repair the heart, or from potentially dangerous drugs. Now, microwave ablation, a minimally invasive option that does not require a sternotomy, has been performed for the first time in the region, and only the second time in the State of Texas, at the Trinity Mother Frances Heart Institute. William F. Turner, Jr., MD, a Tyler cardiovascular surgeon with Turner Cardiovascular Consultants, performed the procedure on a 63-year-old woman from Lindale.

Using the Trinity Mother Frances Heart Institute’s new da Vinci surgical robot, Dr. Turner treated the patient by using bursts of microwave energy to remove the areas of heart tissue causing the “misfirings” in the heart.

“Atrial fibrillation is a major problem for two to three million Americans. It is a rapid, irregular, and chaotic rhythm that causes the blood to stagnate and form clots. These clots can travel to the brain and cause strokes. In addition, patients can experience fatigue and congestive heart failure. Microwave ablation offers patients a viable option to painful surgery with heart lung bypass and potentially dangerous drugs,” said Dr. Turner. “Patients suffering from atrial fibrillation can experience extreme discomfort, and even pain. Microwave ablation has about an 80 percent success rate, and patients normally go home within a day or two of the procedure, instead of a several day stay in the hospital and a long home recovery.”

Normally, the heartbeat is triggered by an electrical impulse, which starts in the Sinoatrial (SA) node. The SA is located in the right atrium of the heart, which is where the natural pacemaker occurs. The electrical signal normally moves evenly across the atrium, causing it to contract. The impulse then travels across the atrioventricular (AV) node and triggers the ventricles to contract. The ventricles are the main pumping chambers of the heart. Atrial fibrillation occurs when this electrical impulse does not travel from the SA node to the AV node in a normal way.

Using the Trinity Mother Frances Heart Institute’s da Vinci robotics system, three small (less than one inch) incisions are made in the patient’s chest to allow endoscopic devices to enter the heart area. Microwave ablation is then used to delicately remove the areas of heart tissue that are causing cardiac short-circuits.

The da Vinci System is a laparoscopic surgical robot that integrates the classic skills of the surgeon with the futuristic precision of the robot. According to Michael J. Vintges, vice president cardiac services, Trinity Mother Frances Heart Institute, “The first procedure using da Vinci was also a cardiac procedure performed by Dr. Turner earlier this year. Since then, other surgical applications, such as urology, are now done with da Vinci. We are very excited to continue to offer cutting-edge technology that keeps Mother Frances Hospital the leader in cardiac care.”

The da Vinci surgical robot cannot make decisions or movements on its own. The surgeon makes all movements. But da Vinci makes the surgeon’s movements more precise, giving the surgeon more range of motion and providing enhanced 3-D visualization of the operating field. It improves the dexterity beyond that available with current minimally invasive technology.

Trinity Mother Frances Heart Institute recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with yet another milestone, when the 10,000th open-heart surgery was performed at Mother Frances Hospital. In 1983, Mother Frances Hospital was the first to bring advanced and comprehensive cardiac care to this region, and has been the leader in providing cardiology services to the people of east Texas for two decades.

Other technological additions to the Trinity Mother Frances Heart Institute have included the AngioJetâ Thrombectomy system, a device that uses high-pressure water jets to remove blood clots, a leading cause of heart attacks; the FilterWire EX System, a filter designed to capture loose blood clot material that can be dislodged during cardiovascular interventions such as angioplasty or stenting and cause a heart attack; the Frontrunnerâ X39 CTO Catheter, a new plaque-penetrating device that can prevent the need for cardiac bypass surgery in some patients; and the 3-D Echo, a new three-dimensional echocardiography diagnostic tool that provides physicians with real-time, detailed images of the heart and assists cardiologists at Mother Frances Hospital in implementing more accurate and faster treatment programs.

For more information on cardiac services available through the Trinity Mother Frances Heart Institute, visit or call TeleCare Plus at 903-531-5678, or outside Tyler at 800-535-9799.

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