HOUSTON (October 09, 2014)

In an ongoing effort to reduce radiation exposure for cardiac patients, Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Southwest offers an alternative surgical treatment option for arrhythmia, or an irregular heart rhythm.

Last year, the hospital became the first in Texas, and remains the only one in Houston, to employ St. Jude Medical's MediGuide™ Technology - a device that uses global positioning system-like technology to guide heart catheters inside the body.

“Similar to how drivers determine the location of their car on a map, this technology enables us to see and track the precise location and orientation of our tools within a patient,” said Electrophysiology Medical Director Sohail Jalal, M.D. at Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Southwest. “The real advantage is that it helps us perform safer procedures by reducing radiation exposure for all involved.”

MediGuide™ technology is a 3-D visualization system that uses electromagnetic signals to see inside a patient’s body and track medical devices in real-time on pre-recorded fluoroscopy, which is a rapid series of X-ray images. Automatic adjustments are made to the previously recorded images to compensate for cardiac motion, respiratory changes, and patient movement.

The current standard practice for viewing devices in the heart uses live fluoroscopy, with an average exposure time of more than 10 minutes. Using prerecorded images, instead of live x-ray during a procedure, reduces a patient’s radiation exposure by 60 to 90 percent. Recently, a patient at Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Southwest received only 30 seconds of exposure time.

Worldwide, physicians perform several billion radiation-based imaging studies annually and approximately one-third of these studies occur in cardiovascular patients. This has led to a dramatic increase in exposure to ionizing radiation, which studies show may elevate a person’s risk of developing cancer and present other health hazards.

According to the American Heart Association, the collective dose that patients received annually from ionizing radiation during medical tests increased among the general population an estimated 700 percent between 1980 and 2006.

“The MediGuide Technology has proven to be a great benefit for our patients,” said Jalal. “Performing this type of heart procedure with 90 percent less fluoroscopy is another example of how our team makes every effort to provide high quality and safe patient care.”

One of only 256 hospitals recognized nationwide, Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Southwest recently received the American College of Cardiology’s 2014 NCDR ACTION Registry–GWTG Platinum Performance Achievement Award.