A Santa Monica electrophysiologist is in the process of developing a new instrument that some say has the potential to revolutionize a heart condition affecting millions.
The laser device is a visually guided balloon catheter called the Endoscopic Ablation System that would be used in treating patients stricken with atrial fibrillation.
Dr. Shephal Doshi is believed to be the first doctor on the West Coast to perform the procedure and Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica is the only regional hospital where it has been performed.
Ablation is a technique used to treat patients with abnormal heart rhythms.
Approximately six million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a condition characterized by a rapid and irregular heartbeat that can cause serious complications, including stroke, palpitations, fainting and early death.
The likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation increases with age. Three to five percent of people over the age of 65 have this heart condition.
Doshi says he is halfway through the clinical trial with the procedure that will allow physicians to clearly examine the diseased portion of the heart of a patient and to see where to burn away the damaged tissue.
“Based on preliminary data, we are very excited about it,” he said.
The doctor said the only catheter in the new procedure that enters the heart has a camera and is very small – the size of a hair follicle.
The camera allows the physician to see directly into the heart. “Laser energy is used to destroy (unhealthy tissue),” Doshi explained. “This gives us feedback to where the vein and the damaged tissue are.”
Not everyone who has atrial fibrillation might be eligible for the new study.
“There are certain patients who are better candidates for this procedure,” the doctor said.
Doshi treated Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl in 2011 for his atrial fibrillation with a device called the Watchman, which acts as a parachute that seals the atrial appendage. Rosendahl no longer has to take the drug Coumadin, which the councilman called “rat poison.”
Doshi also designed the Watchman, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in 2009.
The doctor feels that the new ablation procedure can be life-altering for those who are afflicted with atrial fibrillation.
“This is one of the few therapies that can fix arrhythmia and can greatly improve a patient’s quality of life,” he stated. “This is a good alternative for patients to consider.”
Doshi calculates that the study will be completed in six to 12 months.