UI Health EP Lab Utilizes 3D Mapping for Safer, More Accurate Cardiac Ablation

Angelica Murillo’s congenital heart condition caused complications during her pregnancy.


Angelica Murillo has a congenital heart condition, called dextrocardia, where her heart points to right rather than left. The abnormality never caused her any problems - until she became pregnant. At around 16 weeks, she began having recurrent episodes of extremely fast heart rhythm - up to 190 beats per minute - that would last several hours.

“Medication was ineffective to suppress these episodes, and due to concerns for her and her unborn child’s safety, she was taken to the electrophysiology lab,” says Dr. Erik Wissner, director of Cardiac Electrophysiology at UI Health. “Upon examination, she was found to have two extra pathways within the heart. Both pathways needed to be ablated - capped - to allow conduction across the normal conduction system.”

Routinely, ablation procedures are performed under fluoroscopy (X-ray) guidance; however. X-ray can cause harm to the unborn child, especially during the first 4 months of pregnancy.

Fortunately, the EP lab at UI Health offers a cutting-edge 3D mapping system for ablation procedures. These systems quickly and accurately generate 3D models of the heart chambers and the abnormal heart rhythm, known as tachycardia, providing critical information to physicians during cardiac ablations.

Not only is 3D mapping more efficient and accurate for catheter placement, it reduces and can even eliminate the need for X-ray guidance, making it a safer option for pregnant patients like Murillo. "Efficient and accurate catheter placement is one of the most important factors in a successful ablation," says Wissner, "and also reduces procedure times and radiation exposure."

Typically, pregnant patients are offered this procedure after safe delivery of the baby, but because of the recurrent and incessant nature of the abnormal fast heart rhythm, Wissner decided to treat Murillo immediately. With 3D mapping, he was able to safely maneuver catheters to cap the two pathways on the left side of Murillo's heart, where the tachycardia originated.

"I'm so grateful to Dr. Wissner and his team," Murillo says. "They found the best cure for me - and my baby!"