Shelby offers new heart surgery

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Shelby Baptist Medical Center recently performed the region&8217;s first &8220;top-down mini-maze,&8221; a minimally invasive heart surgery. The new

procedure does away with large incisions, the heart-lung machine and other components of traditional

open heart surgeries.

&8220;The mini-maze procedure is just another component of our expanding cardiology product line here at Shelby,&8221; said April Holcomb, director of business devlopment.

&8220;This is the latest technology in this sort of treatment, so anything that Shelby Baptist can do to bring the latest procedure or increase in technology to the community, it&8217;s an option that we want to consider,&8221; she said.

The mini-maze procedure treats atrial fibrillation, which occurs in nearly 2.2 million Americans, according to the American Heart Association.

It is usually characterized by an abnormal heartbeat, which keeps the heart from pumping blood out of its chambers effectively. This can cause blood to collect and form clots, and if a clot leaves the heart and lodges in an artery in the brain, a stroke occurs.

Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Mark Jayawant brought the progressive procedure to Shelby Baptist after studying it under Dr. Erik Beyer, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Scott & White University Medical Campus in Round Rock, Texas, a pioneering physician for the mini-maze.

&8220;I think until the mini-maze came, cardiac surgery had very little to offer in the way of a minimally invasive treatment of A Fib, and now we do. It&8217;s a very, very exciting addition to the spectrum of things we can offer as cardiac surgeons,&8221; Jayawant said.

He selected the top-down mini-maze, one of several procedure variations, for its cutting-edge technology and versatility in ways of approaching the heart.

Jayawant also believes the surgery, which removes the heart&8217;s left atrial appendage where blood tends to pool, lowers the risk of stroke and drastically reduces recovery time.

&8220;That was encouraging to me, the recovery time,&8221; said Shelby&8217;s first mini-maze patient Mel Shinholster of Hoover. Shinholster entered the hospital for surgery on a Tuesday and went home on Friday. &8220;Recovery from the mini-maze was amazing to me. I&8217;m back to the way I was 38 years ago.&8221;

Jayawant estimates that one-third of those with atrial fibrillation may be candidates for the mini-maze.

&8220;The potential to treat patients with the mini-maze is very great. It&8217;s just going to remain to be seen what kind of response we get from the community,&8221; he said.

He performed his sixth mini-maze surgery last week