UNC cardiologists performed the first X-ray free atrial fibrillation ablation on February 15. The procedure was performed by Dr. Faisal Syed, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology, and clinical cardiac electrophysiology fellow Dr. Greg Harris. X-ray free atrial fibrillation ablation is available in only a limited number of medical centers regionally.
Catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation is a minimally invasive procedure which provides considerable symptomatic benefit for a large number of patients, and in some, such as those with heart failure, also improves cardiac function when compared to medical therapy alone. Traditionally such ablation procedures have been reliant on X-Ray fluoroscopy to visualize the catheters within the body and heart. The availability of modern electroanatomical mapping systems and intracardiac ultrasound has resulted in a marked reduction in rates of X-ray use over the years. This is important as X-rays, although used safely in health care settings, still carry potential risk of injury both to patients and staff and require constant monitoring. X-ray use also heavily dictates lab design and operation, and requires operators to wear heavy leaded protective equipment which carries risk of musculoskeletal injury with long term use.