McLaren Only Hospital in State to Treat Arrhythmias Without Radiation


Responding to an industry-wide push to limit patients’ access to radiation during surgery, Dr. Cameron Willoughby uses 3D anatomical mapping and ultrasound to guide a heart catheter and stabilize the heart when correcting cardiac arrhythmias.

A cardiologist at the McLaren Heart Rhythm Treatment Center, Dr. Willoughby creates a 3D map of the heart to guide the catheter and treat the arrhythmia with an ablation. Traditional ablations generally need X-ray technology to guide the heart catheter to the damaged tissue, but Dr. Willoughby is able to use his fluoroless approach for all types of arrhythmias, including complex ablations.

“This is something on the mind of every electrophysiologist and all physicians — to get as much radiation exposure out of procedures as possible,” Dr. Willoughby said. “Fluoroless ablations achieve this goal, while also providing us with the same — even greater — detail of the heart to ensure optimal placement of the catheter.”

Patients benefit from a fluoroless approach because avoiding radiation (a natural carcinogen and teratogen) removes the risk of skin burns and other damages during the procedure. It also allows pregnant women to have arrhythmias corrected, as radiation exposure can lead to birth defects.

Symptoms of arrhythmia include heart palpitations, racing heart, unexplained fatigue, ventricular tachycardia, and can lead to decreased quality of life, cardiac arrest, and sudden death in extreme cases.

McLaren Health Care is headquartered in Flint, and includes 12 hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, imaging centers, Michigan’s only proton therapy centers, an employed physician care network, and commercial and Medicaid HMOs covering more than 250,000 people statewide.

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