Doctor New to the Tri-Cities is Fixing People's Hearts - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Doctor New to the Tri-Cities is Fixing People's Hearts

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New doctor in the Tri-Cities area is fixing people's hearts. New doctor in the Tri-Cities area is fixing people's hearts.

RICHLAND, WA - A new doctor in the area is going straight to the heart of a widespread medical issue. Irregular and rapid heartbeats are largely under treated in the Tri-Cities because, until now, no one has been able to fix the problem.

More often than not, patients can be awake during the procedure that takes a team to complete.

"Generally, sort of four broad classifications of arrhythmia. Atrial fibrillation is our most common complex procedure," said Dr. James Kneller, MD.

In simple terms, the team fixes fast or irregular heartbeats. This is the first time the procedure has been available locally.

"Doctors have been sitting on patients for a long time who have needs and you know, dealing with the complications with the recurrences. Managing as best they can and now becoming aware that there is advanced therapy available for these patients," Dr. Kneller said.

The team uses catheters with little metal poles that go inside the hear and record its electrical activity. Then they can use other catheters to go in, diagnose and cure a person's irregular heart rhythms.

"When we're sure that we know what it is, where it's coming from, how the heart is supporting it, then with one of those catheters we can apply heat energy to disrupt the electrical function of a small region of the heart muscle so that the heart is unable to support that tachycardia any longer," Dr. Kneller said.

"If you look at this tip, you can see that it's right here. That's in the coronary sinus. So we're able to visualize all of the different catheters within the heart so that we can accurately be able to find these rhythms and ablate them," said Clinical App. Specialist, Vernon Austin.

While it may sound daunting, this isn't surgery, per se. Patients are in and out of the hospital all in a day's work.

"It is an invasive procedure that we're putting catheters into the heart. It is minimally invasive, in that recovery times are very short," Dr. Kneller said.