Area patients who require an interventional procedure to treat abnormal heart rhythm problem -- including atrial fibrillation (or “A-fib”) -- will no longer have to leave McLean County for care when Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal opens its new, comprehensive electrophysiology lab in April.
Advocate BroMenn has recently expanded and converted one of its existing catheterization labs into a fully-integrated electrophysiology lab. Electrophysiology (EP) is a subspecialty of cardiovascular medicine that deals with diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm problems. The lab’s primary user will be Dr. Ashok Koul, a cardiologist with Advocate Medical Group’s Illinois Heart & Lung Associates who specializes in electrophysiology. Advocate BroMenn will be the only hospital in the community to have both a full-time electrophysiologist and a dedicated EP lab.
“With this new lab, we can now offer adult patients a full complement of diagnostic and treatment technologies,” said Dr. Koul. These technologies include:
- Catheter ablation, a procedure that uses long catheter tubes to correct structural problems in the heart that cause abnormal heart rhythms;
- Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICD), a pager-sized device that is implanted in a patient’s chest that monitors heartbeat and provides an electrical impulse to restore a normal rhythm, when necessary;
- Bi-ventricular devices for resynchronization of the heart’s rhythm
- Permanent pacemaker implants, a small device placed under the skin near the heart to help regulate slow heartbeat;
- Cardioversion, a procedure that uses electrical impulses to restore a heart to a normal rhythm;
- Tilt table studies for patients who have episodes of loss of consciousness.
A-fib – an irregular heartbeat that causes poor blood flow to the body and can cause stroke-- is one of the most common forms of heart rhythm disorders. It is often able to be treated through medication management, but in some cases, a procedure called atrial fibrillation ablation is necessary. Before the new lab, this procedure could not be performed at Advocate BroMenn or anywhere else locally, so patients were being sent out of the region for the procedure.
The equipment necessary to perform complex ablation procedures like atrial fibrillation must have a fully integrated electrophysiology lab with more permanent installation of the equipment. “The new lab has integrated all of this equipment into the room, and the room will be used for EP procedures only,” Dr. Koul added. This will facilitate the catheter ablation of all types of complex heart rhythm problems including that of atrial fibrillation.
The new lab will have bi-plane imaging, which allows the electrophysiologist to have a two-dimensional view of the heart. “This means that the patient can be on the table for a shorter length of time and will receive less radiation from the imaging,” Dr. Koul added. Another inclusion to the lab will the availability of a steerable intracardiac ultrasound that allows a direct visualization of the structures inside the heart, thus adding to the accuracy, safety and potentially better outcomes of these procedures.
The lab also includes a moveable anesthesia boom, allowing for easier access to anesthesia before or during a procedure.
Dr. Koul has been a practicing electrophysiologist since 2003. He joined Advocate Medical Group’s Illinois
Heart & Lung Associates in 2010. Dr. Koul previously practiced as a Cardiac Electrophysiologist at Bay Care Cardiology in Green Bay, Wis. He also served as Assistant Professor of Medicine in cardiac electrophysiology and arrhythmia service at Albany Medical Center in Albany, NY.
Dr. Koul completed Fellowships in Cardiac Electrophysiology at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. He also completed a Fellowship in Cardiology at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. He is board certified in Cardiac Electrophysiology and Cardiovascular Diseases.
About Advocate BroMenn Medical Center:
Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, located in Bloomington-Normal, has been serving and caring for the people of central Illinois for more than 115 years. As the health care leader in McLean County, BroMenn provides healing and discovery, while simultaneously offering the warm touch of professional caregivers who form the BroMenn family.
Part of Advocate Health Care, BroMenn Medical Center is a 221-bed hospital renowned for its neuro, cardiac, orthopedic and women’s services. Advocate BroMenn Medical Center is also a teaching facility, offering residency programs in Neurosurgery, Family Practice and Clinical Pastoral Education. The facility has won several awards for clinical quality and patient satisfaction. BroMenn also has several active partnerships with other organizations, including a community cancer center, an Advanced MRI site, a sports enhancement center, a sleep disorders center, an addiction recovery unit, and an assisted living facility.