MURRAY, UTAH (ABC 4 News) - A man with a failing heart has a second chance at life tonight because of a groundbreaking procedure performed right here in Utah.
Stephen Summerill survived a heart attack but needed a pace maker and a defibrillator to stay alive. The devices shocked his heart back into a normal rhythm, but not without pain. "If you were to go up to a light switch and grab the two wires and you get the jolt, take that jolt about twenty times harder."
Surgery was needed to save his life. A new technique allows doctors to treat heart arrhythmia using a robotic, magnetic catheter, inserted through the leg. Using computer generated images; the cardiologist is able to destroy the tissue causing irregular beats, with heat.
Dr. Peter Weiss says the procedure is non-invasive and safe.” I can move the catheter millimeter by millimeter with extreme precision in the heart creating a very detailed map of what the heart muscle looks like where the rhythms are coming from.
It is new technology, with great outcomes, that was not available to Stephen Summerill because his heart couldn't withstand the anesthesia necessary. Doctor Weiss says anesthesia can cause a dangerous dip in blood pressure. "We worried ahead of time that he would be unable to tolerate having the procedure if we were to just do it traditionally."
So, Intermountain cardiologists came up with a non-traditional approach. They planned a procedure that would be first in the nation. It combines two technologies. Summerill says he wasn’t worried. "I was number one and nothing else counted to them."
Summerill was implanted with a miniature, state of the art, heart pump before the surgery began. Dr. James Revenaugh says the device temporarily implanted outside the body, and removed after surgery. “The purpose of the pump is to help support the circulation in a failing heart."
It has made all of the difference for Stephen is made all the difference. Two days after surgery, he was cured of his heart rhythm troubles and out of the hospital. Stephen says with a smile, “my doctors told me to get back to work.”