At nine years old, Sofia Dahlberg is a typical vivacious and active kid. When not playing volleyball or tennis, she’s honing her acting skills, most recently as Miss Hannigan in her school’s performance of Annie.
But because of an abnormal heart rhythm (cardiac arrhythmia) diagnosed at age five, the fourth-grader sometimes had to sit out, resting until her quickened heartbeat returned to normal. When the racing heartbeat became more pronounced — even sending her to the emergency room — Byron Holt, MD, pediatric cardiologist at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, suggested corrective heart procedure.
Dell Children’s is part of Ascension, the largest nonprofit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system.
“There wasn’t a trigger to her episodes,” said Sofia’s mother, Brooke Dahlberg. “Our fear was what would happen if one occurred without any family around?”
Leading the way to save young hearts
Sofia’s procedure was scheduled on February 14, 2017, Valentine’s Day.
She was one of the first beneficiaries of new heart mapping technology at Dell Children’s.
The technology called Abbott EnSite Precision™ cardiac mapping system allows a detailed look inside the heart, helping physicians to diagnose an arrhythmia and determine the best course of action to successfully manage and treat the irregular heartbeat.
“We’re able to get quicker, more accurate 3-D imaging of the heart, allowing for a shorter procedure time,” said Daniel Shmorhun, MD, the Dell Children’s pediatric electrophysiologist who mapped Sofia’s heart with the new tool.
Reconfigure the “Wiring”
A cardiac arrhythmia is an electrical problem that causes the heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly. Some cardiac arrhythmias are mild and can be managed with medication or rest. Other cases, such as Sofia’s, may require surgery.
Shmorhun performed a catheter ablation. Special, thin flexible wires called catheters are guided into the heart to disrupt the electrical circuit causing the abnormal heartbeat. Energy is sent through the wiring to destroy the small section of heart tissue causing the issue.
“The heart is a delicate organ and the procedure is quite intricate,” said Shmorhun. The better imaging we can get, the better the outcome,” he said.
Step toward radiation-free cath lab
According to the manufacturer, Abbott’s EnSite Precision cardiac mapping system and its sensor enabled tools also allow catheter navigation to occur with minimal fluoroscopy, reducing potential for risks associated with excessive radiation exposure.
“We are always evaluating ways to improve the safety of our patients and staff. This tool is a significant step forward in our goal toward — a radiation-free cath lab,” explained Meena Iyer, MD, chief medical officer, Dell Children’s Medical Center.
Brooke wasn’t aware of the new technology at the time of her daughter’s procedure but she says she is grateful for it.
“Every parent wants to hear doctors are using the latest, greatest tools available,” she said. “Especially when you’re talking about fixing something as delicate as your child’s heart.”
Sofia literally jumped back into her full activity just a week after the procedure as an ambassador for her school’s Jump Rope for Heart event, a fundraiser for cardiology research. Her mom says she was excited to help other children who may also have a heart issue.
Learn more about Dell Children’s Regional Heart Center.
|The EnSite Precision System allows catheter navigation to occur with less fluoroscopy, thus reducing potential for risks associated with excessive radiation exposure.4
|Pappone, C., Vicedomini, G., & Santinelli, V. (2013). The Role of 3D Mapping Technology and Fluoro Reduction in the Electrophysiology World. Journal of Atrial Fibrillation, 5(7). Retrieved April 14, 2016.|