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Science and Technology

Using GPS to fix a heart problem

When diagnosing and repairing the heart's electrical system, doctors often have to use lots of radiation to pinpoint the problem. It's not uncommon for the patient to experience 50 minutes or more of radiation thanks to X-rays, CAT scans and nuclear stress tests.

But increasingly, doctors are realizing there is another way. Dr. Khalid Almuti, a UC Health cardiologist who specializes in electrophysiology, does all of his electrical check-ups on heart, without X-rays. He uses a non-radiation mapping system, a GPS-like communication that maps the location of the catheter on a computer screen, made by St. Jude Medical.

Here's how it works:

  1. Three disposable patches are put on the patient's upper back and chest.
  2. The catheter, inserted through the groin muscle, has a special energy emitter and it communicates with the patches.
  3. This signal helps the doctor pinpoint the position of the plastic tubing to advance it to the proper place.
  4. On a computer screen the doctor can view the location and diagnose and treat the electrical problem of the heart.

Patient Daniel Woodring is benefiting. As an engineer, he researched what Dr. Almuti was going to do and was glad to hear the radiation part of it was being eliminated.