A local man is hopeful a new surgical procedure has fixed his irregular heartbeat after two previous surgeries failed to do so.
Ernest Weltner recently underwent the new procedure, called nContact, to treat his atrial fibrillation.
Dr. Seenu Reddy and Dr. Gregory Bashian are the first doctors in Middle Tennessee to use the hybrid procedure which uses surgical and minimally invasive therapies.
Dr. Reddy burned tissue in a problem area on the outside wall of Weltner's heart. Dr. Bashian did the same on the inside of the heart to form a ring of scar tissue.
Their goal was to isolate the rogue electric impulses and keep them from throwing Weltner's heart out of rhythm.
Weltner previously underwent two ablation procedures and three cardioversion procedures over a period of five years. None of it worked to return Weltner's heart to a normal rhythm for longer than two weeks. Frequently the abnormal heart rhythm would return in just one day.
So far, nContact has kept his heart in rhythm.
If the new procedure fails, Weltner and his wife say it will be devastating.
“If it does, it [goes out of rhythm] six weeks out, it will be disappointing. If it does it six months out, it will be devastating,” Weltner's wife, Shirley, explained.
Before the procedure, Weltner struggled to walk long distances. Now, he feels a lot better.
“I think I can get back to doing everything I want to do,” he said, adding, “It's been hard, to feel like I feel right now, to remember how I used to feel. It's just great.”
Doctors Reddy and Bashain say another successful outcome is encouraging.
“It was a remarkable success for a remarkable patient,” explained Dr. Reddy.
Dr. Bashian added, “It was very nice to see him feel so much better in clinic, than he did in our pre-operative evaluations.”
The doctors say if Weltner's heart stays in rhythm for a few more months, they can be pretty certain it will say that way.
Weltner's medical team is encouraging the thousands of Tennesseans who suffer from atrial fibrillation, the most common type of arrhythmia, to ask about nContact.