First Patient Benefits From Unique EP Studies Lab
EP studies map irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias). Untreated arrhythmias can become life-threatening. Specially trained cardiologists, called electrophysiologists, use the specialised study to find the cause of the arrhythmias and, if possible, destroy it.
For the complex procedure to take place a hospital needs to be equipped with an EP Lab, employ an electrophysiologist and paediatric cardiac anaesthetist. The patient will also need to be moved to ICU immediately after surgery.
Dr Rik de Decker, a paediatric cardiologist, said: "We have a very good working relationship with Groote Schuur Hospital’s electrophysiologists, which largely developed in co-operation with the late, iconic Professor Andrej Okreglicki. Although they are very supportive and have helped many of our children, there were many drawbacks to this arrangement."
One of these difficulties was that it added strain to Groote Schuur Hospital’s services and as a result patients had to wait longer for treatment.
"The whole process was difficult because Groote Schuur’s EP Lab is not geared to deal with children. There is also no dedicated paediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Groote Schuur Hospital," he said.
Therefore, the hospital developed its own EP Lab and the first patient was treated at the lab on 15 August.
Dr De Decker said: “I am pleased to report that the first paediatric EP study and ablation done at the hospital was a resounding success. The nine-year-old patient is well and we have stopped all four of her cardiac medications as a result of the procedure.”
The nine-year-old was discharged on 16 August.
The hospital will be the first in South Africa able to offer paediatric EP studies, with full back-up from a paediatric cardiology unit, anaesthetics, and ICU.
"In time we hope to become a centre of excellence for paediatric EP studies that will become nationally known," said Dr De Decker.