Robotic-Assisted Catheter Cures Case AFib

Atrial fibrillation (Afib) had Judith of Mount Olive Township, NJ, in and out of the hospital for eight years. In addition, the side-effects of the various medications she took to balance her heart’s rhythm and blood pressure were making her sick.

“I pushed myself to do what I had to, but on most days I did not feel well,” recalled Judith. “My heart would race and I had chills and fever from the medications.” As the years wore on, the Afib episodes became more frequent and her symptoms more severe.

Those difficult years are a distant memory since she underwent a robotic-assisted catheter ablation at the Atrial Fibrillation Center at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in 2009 that cured her Afib. Today she is enjoying the retirement she hoped for -- planning to take a cruise and working out at the gym four times a week.


Judith was among more than 2.2 million Americans affected by atrial fibrillation. The most common heart rhythm disorder, it can result in heart failure or stroke if left untreated. Afib occurs when stray electrical signals disrupt the body’s natural heart rhythm. It often produces a rapid and irregular heart beat that can cause fatigue, lightheadedness, shortness of breath and other symptoms.

When Judith underwent one of the first robotic catheter ablations performed at the Atrial Fibrillation Center, electrophysiologist David Dobesh, MD, combined a sophisticated cardiac navigation system to map the electrical signal in her heart and the state-of-the-art robotic catheter for the precise placement of radiofrequency energy that eliminated the abnormal areas which were causing erratic electrical signals and giving rise to her Afib.

“The robotic catheter allows eletrophysiologists to more easily and rapidly access portions of the heart which were challenging with previous catheter technology,” explained Dr. Dobesh. “Judith’s case is a good example of its potential to dramatically improve the procedure and shorten procedure time.” Without the advantage of robotic technology, ablation is performed using a manual catheter technique that requires complex catheter manipulations with inadequate assurance that the tip of the catheter responds as desired while inside the patient’s heart.

After the procedure, she was able to replace the blood thinner and other medications she had been prescribed for many years with a daily, low dose of aspirin.

“I feel a wonderful calm. My heart and body are not racing anymore and my Afib has not come back.”

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