Comprehensive Cardiac Program Makes Complicated Heart Procedure Possible at Methodist University Hospital

Published On 10/17/2011

Memphis, Tenn. – A complex cardiac procedure performed at Methodist University Hospital finally solved 25-year-old Sherrell Phipps’ cardiac trouble. For about four-and-a-half years she lived with experiencing daily episodes of feeling her heart beat which was sometimes painful and left her exhausted. 

“Throughout the day, perhaps five or six times, I could feel my heart flutter,” said Phipps. “Most of the time I’d feel really, really tired. I couldn’t stand for long periods of time. My head hurt. I felt dizzy. I’ve even passed out.” 

She tried medication, but it did not help. Phipps found her way to Rajesh Kabra, M.D., director of electrophysiology ablation services at Methodist University Hospital and assistant professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Medicine. Dr. Kaba trained at Harvard University and specializes in cardiac pacing and arrhythmia services. He discovered Phipps had a rare form of tachycardia or rapid heartbeat that originated in the lower chamber of her heart, also known as ventricular tachycardia. Tachycardias typically develop from the upper chambers of the heart in this age group. 

“The beauty of the procedure we performed on Sherrell is that we were able to pinpoint precisely where the tachycardia originated,” said Dr. Kabra. “While we could ablate or burn this area with a catheter, the main challenge was that this site was next to the origin of the left main coronary artery which supplies blood to about two-thirds of the heart. Any damage to this artery could be life-threatening by causing a heart attack. However, by working with Dr. Koshy, it was possible to safely correct Sherrell’s rapid heartbeat.” 

With the help of Santhosh Koshy, M.D., director of interventional cardiology at Methodist University Hospital and assistant professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Medicine, the two physicians worked as a team to safely ablate the tachycardia. Dr. Koshy performed angiography by inserting a catheter through the artery in the leg and threading it up to the heart. Dye was then injected to clearly show the origin of the artery in the heart. Dr. Kabra used a state-of-the-art sophisticated 3-D mapping system to pinpoint the exact location of the initial electrical activity which marked the origin of the tachycardia. With Dr. Koshy’s help, Dr. Kabra was able to see where the artery was and avoid damaging it while safely ablating or burning the abnormal electrical signal of the tachycardia to correct the rapid heartbeat.     

Dr. Kabra says the comprehensive cardiac program at Methodist University Hospital made it possible to perform such a complicated procedure. “The key to successfully and safely perform this complex procedure was that I was at a hospital where I can work collaboratively with other talented physicians to deliver the best possible care to my patients.” 

Dr. Koshy agrees that it is critical to work as a team and bring all the available talents involved in the care of patients with such complex heart diseases. “The complexity of the case was that the abnormal electrical tract was very close to the origin of the main artery of the heart. Knowing where the origin of this artery was important. The success in this case would not have been possible without team work that is the culture at Methodist University Hospital where physicians can deliver state-of-the-the art treatment for patients with such complex problems.” 

The procedure worked for Phipps and she has noticed a world of difference. “I feel 100 percent better. I have energy now that I never had before, and I can do the things I want to do. I’m like a whole new person.”