3-D Mapping Gets Service Members Back to Work after Heart Procedures

This is part of an ongoing series highlighting the innovations and research happening at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

By Yolanda R. Arrington
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center cardiologist, Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Matthew Needleman, holds a model heart. DoD News screenshot

Imagine being diagnosed with a heart rhythm condition, a fast or irregular heartbeat. For many in the military, these would be considered career-ending events. Cardiac electrophysiologists at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are improving the futures of active duty service members with these heart rhythm conditions.

Walter Reed Bethesda is using 3-D mapping to detect heart ailments that once required open heart surgery. Once these conditions are identified, cardiac electrophysiologists use a catheter to enter the patient’s leg near the groin area and reach all the way to the heart, correcting the problem.

“Heart rhythm problems are really common for the active duty population. Two to three percent of young, healthy people have these heart rhythm problems and they can be debilitating,” said Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Matthew Needleman, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Walter Reed Bethesda.

These heart issues can interfere with a service member’s ability to do their job, making a person pass out or get light-headed or dizzy and cause chest pains and trouble breathing, Needleman added.

Walter Reed Bethesda cardiac electrophysiologists are using 3-D mapping technology to look at the heart without using any X-rays. This allows them to go inside a patient’s heart with minimal invasion and without exposure to X-ray radiation, find the heart rhythm problem and correct it.

A leader in 3-D mapping technology, Walter Reed Bethesda cardiologists use it on every heart case, allowing the cardiac electrophysiologists to really understand the intricacies of the technology.

Here’s how it works.

Video by Senior Airman 1st Class Jose Gonzalez

The catheter-based procedure requires less down time, quickly returning service members to work. Needleman says patients are able to go home the same day.

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