Electrophysiology

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A Global Leader in Cardiac Arrhythmia Care

group photo of Electrophysiology faculty.

The University of Minnesota has been the source of specialized care for patients with heart rhythm disturbances since the 1970s. The medical staff at the Cardiac Arrhythmia Center brings extensive experience to the diagnosis and treatment of abnormal heart rhythms (cardiac arrhythmias) and fainting spells, whether the need is arrhythmia ablation, drug therapy or implantable pacemakers and defibrillators. In fact, our physicians have contributed extensively to the development of modern diagnostic tools and treatment options including the use of implantable pacemakers, defibrillators and arrhythmia monitors. Insights gained through patient care have led to the development of next generation therapies, resulting in an impressive series of innovations that have advanced patient care for men, women and children around the world.

Leaders in catheter ablation
We were the first in the Twin Cities area to introduce ablation for an abnormal heart rate. We also were instrumental in devising specialized catheters and advanced three-dimensional mapping systems to help localize the origins of abnormal rhythms.

  • Left Ventricular Tachycardia. We perform complex left ventricular tachycardia ablation in patients with severe heart disease and adults with previously treated congenital heart disease.
  • High-risk Ablation with Bypass. Today, we have the added capabilities of robot-assisted surgery and peripheral circulatory bypass (i.e. temporary mechanical support of the circulation) to increase the effectiveness and safety of complex ablations.

Advanced Therapy for Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm problem and can lead to stroke, heart failure and other heart conditions. When medications, blood pressure management and weight loss fail to relieve the problem, we have other options. We are skilled in providing therapies to treat atrial fibrillation, including many varieties of radio-frequency ablation, cardioversion, pacemakers, defibrillators and surgery. Our goal is to reduce patient symptoms and prevent stroke.

Extraction of Malfunctioning Pacemakers and Defibrillator Leads
Pacemaker and defibrillator leads delivery energy from the device to the heart. Sometimes these leads need to be removed due to fracture, infection or scar tissue that forms at the tip of the pacing electrode and causes “exit block.”  Previously, heart surgery was usually required to remove the damaged lead, either through the subclavian vein in the chest or the femoral vein in the groin. Now, our cardiologists can usually introduce a sheath that heats or vaporizes scar tissue to make lead removal easier. Sometimes a replacement lead is implanted at the same time as the malfunctioning lead is removed.

Management of Syncope
Our staff created many of the methods used to diagnose syncope and have led the way in developing practice guidelines for the management of patients with arrhythmia-related syncope and collapse. Special testing is available to help establish the cause of the problem. Frequently, implantable loop recorders are employed as important diagnostic tools to help our electrophysiologists diagnose the cause of symptoms. Treatment may focus on simple exercises, but medications are also used independently or in conjunction with pacemakers and defibrillators to prevent recurrent syncope.