Alcohol Septal Ablation for Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy (HOCM)
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a disease in which heart muscle fibers become enlarged and disarrayed, causing the heart muscle and walls to become stiff and thick. A genetic disorder that affects about 1 in 500 people, the condition eventually leads to improper heart pumping. When the muscle tissue becomes overgrown in the heart wall between the ventricles or septum, the condition is known as hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM). Most people do not exhibit any symptoms until the conditions progress, eventually appearing as shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain, dizziness and fatigue, and even fainting. Young athletes who die suddenly while under tremendous competition are often found to have HCM or HOCM.
One surgical option for patients with HOCM is alcohol septal ablation (ASA). Using x-ray fluoroscopy and echocardiography, the cardiologist guides the catheter through a large septal artery in the groin that supplies blood flow to the enlarged septum. Absolute alcohol is injected into the septal artery, which causes the excess muscle in the septum to shrink and die.
After ASA, hospitalization is required for about two days, followed by two weeks of re-cuperation time. Complications can include the need for a pacemaker in up to 10 percent of patients, allergic reaction to the iodine-based contrast, or bleeding, infection and artery damage from the procedure. A second treatment may be necessary for a more complete improvement of symptoms.
Sometimes ASA cannot be performed because of specific factors that affect the ability to pass a catheter into the appropriate artery. At The Methodist DeBakey Heart Center, a magnetic guidance system is used to guide the catheters in these situations, making the procedure possible. MDCA cardiologist Dr. John Buergler was the first physician in the United States to publish a case series using this system to aid in the treatment of patients with HOCM.
For more information about HCM, HOCM and ASA, visit www.hcmhelp.com.
MDCA cardiologists perform these procedures in a full catheterization laboratory using state-of-the-art heart catheter equipment. They are experienced in assessing the full spectrum of heart conditions, and use cardiac catheterization as an important tool to assess a patient's overall heart health and to direct his or her treatment. To make an appointment with an MDCA cardiologist experienced with alcohol septal ablation, please call 713-441-1100 (Pearland patients, please call 713-441-9909).