New robotic lab for cardiac
– Sunnybrook Health Science Centre has announced the opening of
Toronto’s first robotic arrhythmia invasive lab, where patients with
irregular heart beats can receive minimally invasive treatment to
restore normal heart function.
“Our new lab is home to a cutting-edge system from Stereotaxis that uses
computerized, magnet-guided technology to enhance the precision and
safety of heart procedures,” said Dr. Eugene Crystal (pictured),
cardiologist and Director of Arrhythmia Services at Sunnybrook’s
Schulich Heart Centre. “It is one of only three such suites in Canada
and it will revolutionize how we treat our patients with cardiac
arrhythmias and perform other cardiovascular interventions.”
Cardiac arrhythmias occur when the electricity that flows through the
heart to trigger the pumping action “short circuits” or gets blocked –
disturbing the heart’s normal rhythm. In many patients, this can cause
symptoms like heart palpitations, fatigue, dizziness, chest pain and
shortness of breath, which can severely affect quality of life.
If left untreated, it can also lead to heart attack and stroke. The goal
of treatment is to ablate – or destroy – damaged heart tissue that
causes the electrical malfunction and restore a regular heart rhythm.
During a procedure in the robotic arrhythmia invasive suite, powerful
magnets are positioned near the patient while a cardiologist operates
the system from an adjoining control room, outside of the x-ray field.
The sophisticated GPS technology maps a pathway through a patient’s
blood vessels and heart to the diseased heart tissue, and the magnets
lead a soft catheter gently along this pathway by guiding its magnetic
“The advanced navigational capabilities enable us to pinpoint the
precise location of the faulty electrical site in order to position the
catheter there and effectively deliver the required treatment to restore
a normal heart rhythm,” said Dr. Crystal, who is also an associate
professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.
“With this enhanced level of precision, we can expect to have a much
higher rate of success on our first attempt at fixing the problem,
meaning we won’t have to bring patients back for a second attempt or
refer them on to a more invasive procedure, which would require a longer
stay in the hospital and longer recovery time.”
• Reduces exposure to x-ray radiation for patients and medical staff.
• Reduces contrast dyes injected into patient’s blood vessels during
• Reduces risk of major complications from perforation of blood vessels
or heart tissue.
The new suite is part of a $25 million redevelopment project to create a
world-class, technologically advanced Schulich Heart Centre.
“At the Schulich Heart Centre, we care for some of the province’s most
critically ill heart patients,” said Dr. Brian Gilbert, chief of the
Schulich Heart Centre. “Thanks to the incredible support of Mr. Seymour
Schulich and the many other generous donors who contributed to this
project, we have been able to build the first-class facility our teams
need to continue providing exceptional care and inventing the future of
About Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is inventing the future of health care
for the one million patients the hospital cares for each year through
the dedication of its more than 10,000 staff and volunteers. An
internationally recognized leader in research and education and a full
affiliation with the University of Toronto distinguishes Sunnybrook as
one of Canada’s premier academic health sciences centres. Sunnybrook
specializes in caring for Canada’s war veterans, high-risk pregnancies,
critically-ill newborns, adults and the elderly, and treating and
preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders,
orthopaedic and arthritic conditions and traumatic injuries.
Posted July 15, 2010