Einstein Dedicates New State-of-the-Art Electrophysiology Lab
When a heartbeat goes haywire—when it beats too slowly, too quickly or erratically—a cardiology specialist called an electrophysiologist can diagnose, treat, and often cure the life-threatening problem in a specially equipped laboratory. The field of electrophysiology has grown and evolved so dramatically in recent years that Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia has built a new state-of-the-art electrophysiology lab to accommodate advanced technology and increased patient demand.
The new lab, which contains the latest version of every technological tool, was unveiled Monday, May 14.
“Our new electrophysiology lab is the most advanced in the nation today,” said Sumeet Mainigi, MD, Einstein’s Director of Electrophysiology. “This lab offers the latest in x-ray imaging, intracardiac ultrasound, high definition 3-dimensional mapping, and advanced audio and video distribution to allow us to collaborate with and educate physicians all over the country in the some of the advanced techniques that we uniquely perform.”
The field has changed tremendously since Dr. Mainigi helped coordinate building Einstein’s last electrophysiology lab in 2007. For example, the life-saving procedure of ablation of atrial fibrillation used to take eight hours to perform but now takes about an hour, thanks to advancements in technology and refinements in technique. In addition, Einstein now offers therapies to treat advanced heart failure and stroke—therapies offered at only a handful of centers around the region and country.
The new lab, located in the Braemer Heart Center, was funded by proceeds from the Harvest Ball, Einstein’s annual gala fundraiser. And a key piece of equipment, called the Rhythmia Mapping Center— a high definition 3-D mapping system, was funded by the Scholler Foundation and the McLean Contributionship.
Einstein’s lab is the only one in the city which uses all of the most advanced equipment: other hospitals employ some but not all.
Atrial fibrillation, one of the most common heart arrhythmias, raises the risk of stroke and heart attack. The CDC estimates that between 2 and 6 million people in the United States have AFib. Older people are more likely to have the disorder, so the incidence is expected to increase as the population ages.
AFib and other heart rhythm disorders are often treated by ablation, in which a catheter is threaded into the heart and the source of the misfired electrical impulses is located and eliminated by radio frequency or cauterization. In this and other procedures, an accurate three-dimensional “map” of the heart’s electrical transmission is necessary to pinpoint the source of the problem.
The more points in the heart that are mapped, the better clarity, said Dr. Mainigi—comparing it to a connect the dots drawing, in which more dots translate to a more accurate depiction. The newest mapping machinery will provide 30,000 dots, more than 10 times the current capability.
The new facility is a hybrid operating room allowing electrophysiologists to work in conjunction with heart surgeons to perform combination procedures such as lead extraction and hybrid ablations of atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in a space that accommodates both specialists’ equipment and needs, instead of working in a space tailored to one or the other’s needs.
Einstein’s lab is the only one in the city which uses all of the most advanced equipment: other hospitals employ some but not all, Dr. Mainigi said.