1 000 life-saving heart procedures and counting

SA cardiologist places Cape Town at the forefront of international medicine

Friday, January 29 2016
A Cape Town based cardiologist and his surgical team has once again placed the city at the forefront of international medicine, by completing 1 000 successful life-saving heart procedures with the aid of a robotic catheter system. This is among the highest number of procedures of this kind ever to be performed by a single surgical team in the world.

The 1 000th patient, 68-old year Mr Petrus Venter, who is retired, travelled all the way from Namibia to undergo the procedure at Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital. Up-and-about less than four hours after his operation yesterday, Mr Venter said that his journey to Cape Town in search of better health had been well worthwhile and had paid dividends for him. He is looking forward to his discharge from hospital later today and anticipates being back home in Namibia by this time next week.

Dr Faizel Lorgat, a cardiologist practising at Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town, specialises in the treatment of heart rhythm disorders or arrhythmias and was one of the first medical specialist in the world to perform the complex procedure using the sophisticated SENSei robotic catheter system, late in 2009.

“Dr Lorgat has consistently broken boundaries in this field of medicine and has now once again reached a most remarkable medical milestone,” says Chris Tilney, general manager of Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital. “What is particularly noteworthy is that no patient has ever been lost during a robotics procedure, with some patients even going on to participate in competitive sports such as rugby, cycling and swimming at a national level.”

Dr Lorgat explains that the procedure involves using a special catheter fitted with a radio frequency device which works like a laser to cauterise or ablate over active or damaged electrical pathways that cause electrical disturbances in the heart. This enables the heart’s rhythm to return to normal, reducing the need for other treatments such as pacemakers and medication. He says the robotic system allows greater control over the catheter compared to the manual techniques that have traditionally been used.

Dr Lorgat is the only cardiologist specialising in electrophysiology at Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital and one of only a handful in South Africa. The Cape Town facility was the first in the southern hemisphere to use the cutting edge technology offered by the SENSei robotic catheter system.

Dr Lorgat’s vision of transforming Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital into an international referral centre for the treatment of arrhythmias has become a reality and today the facility treats patients such as Mr Venter from around South Africa and the continent.

The electrophysiology unit at Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital is well known for its firsts. The Lynx catheter system had never before been used to treat arrhythmias in the left ventricleuntil Dr Lorgat became the first cardiologist ever to perform this procedure utilising Lynx technology, and he has since successfully treated a number of patients with this condition.

Previously Dr Lorgat teamed up with some of the leading medical institutions in the world to publish a study confirming the safety of the robotics system. More recently, in 2015, Dr Lorgat collaborated with a group of British cardiologists in drawing a comparative study between the use of conventional, non-robotic and robotic procedures. The study found that the robotic procedure had by far the best outcome.

Dr Lorgat is of the opinion that the SENSei robotic catheter system has “already withstood the test of time and proved itself as a major advance in the treatment of heart rhythm disorders”. He says the efficiency of the system should see it becoming standard equipment for the treatment of electrical problems in the heart.



Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare St Anne’s Hospital
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Devereaux Morkel
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
Email: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]