Cardiac Treatment Facility Sentara Heart Hospital is First in the Country to Offer Clinical Trial for Treatment of A-Fib

NORFOLK, Va., Dec. 2, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sentara Heart Hospital is breaking new ground in cardiac care and treatment.  Surgeons and Cardiologists at Sentara Heart Hospital are first to begin enrolling and performing trial cases in the AtriCure DEEP AF feasibility trial.  The first procedure in the country was performed in a new, state-of-the-art hybrid operating room at Sentara Heart Hospital by Jonathan Philpott, M.D., Director of the Sentara Atrial Fibrillation Surgery Program, Ian Woollett, M.D., and John Onufer, M.D., Medical Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology.

The DEEP AF trial, which received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in September 2010, is designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a dual epicardial/endocardial procedure (DEEP), or hybrid procedure, to treat atrial fibrillation patients with persistent and long-standing persistent atrial fibrillation.  Sentara Heart Hospital is one of only six national centers awarded participation in this pivotal trial.  Other medical centers included are Stanford Medical Center, Vanderbilt Heart Institute, University of Virginia, Texas Heart and Baylor.

Atrial fibrillation (AF or a-fib) is the most common irregular heartbeat and is characterized by heart palpitations, dizziness, and shortness of breath.  Sentara offers a number of services to help patients manage AF, including establishing the Sentara Heart Arrhythmia Center - the region's first and only center that brings together highly talented cardiothoracic surgeons and cardiac electrophysiologist cardiologists to diagnose and treat simple to complex atrial fibrillation and other cardiac arrhythmias.

"We believe that this investigational hybrid procedure has the potential to represent an important advancement in the treatment of patients with persistent AF," commented Dr. Onufer.  "Our initial experience with this hybrid procedure suggests that it represents a highly promising AF treatment."

Earlier this year, Sentara Heart Hospital opened a cardiac hybrid operating suite, combining the diagnostic and treatment technologies of a cardiac catheterization lab and traditional operating room.  This allows cardiac surgeons to work more collaboratively with cardiologists, in real time, to offer the greatest depth and breadth of cardiac services in one location.

Dr. Philpott added, "Our preliminary experience has been that the procedure is both safe and effective. The partnership that this hybrid procedure creates between the electrophysiologist and the cardiac surgeon provides patients with a comprehensive ablation and mapping procedure, leveraging the skills and technologies of each specialist."

AtriCure, Inc., a medical device company, received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in September 2010 to proceed with the DEEP AF trial. Doctors Philpott, Woollett, and Onufer are co-Principal Investigators of the DEEP AF trial at Sentara Heart Hospital.

The DEEP AF trial uses AtriCure's minimally invasive surgical ablation product platform in conjunction with the Biosense Webster® THERMOCOOL® catheter ablation products. The feasibility trial will enroll 30 patients and is being conducted at six prominent U.S. medical centers.

To learn more about heart services at Sentara Heart Hospital, visit the cardiac care page on

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CONTACT: Kim Van Sickel, +1-757-984-8132, +1-757-784-2048