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First Surgery of its Kind in State

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MEDFORD, Ore. — A local doctor performed a specific type of heart surgery in Medford for the first time in the state.

When you hear the words ‘open heart surgery’, you’re heart might drop, but now a surgeon at Rogue Regional Medical Center says stopping a heart and cracking open a chest for surgery is no longer a must – thanks to a specific surgery called the Lariat technique.

Paul Dean is a handy man. He’s on the clock nearly full time.

“I work at least four or five days a week, sometimes six,” he said.

In February, he took some time off, following doctor’s orders. Dean is the first patient in Oregon to receive the lariat procedure. He says its been awhile since he’s been first in anything.

“I used to be a fast runner when I was in high school when I was a kid, a long time ago,” said Dean.

Dean has internal bleeding risks, so he can’t take blood thinners. He’s among 3 million Americans who have atrial fibrillation.

“When you’re in atrial fibrillation, the top chambers of the heart are not beating and squeezing. They’re fibrulating at about 300 to 500 beats per minute,” explained Dr. Pena.

It’s the most common form of an irregular heart rhythm, but there are other symptoms.

“Some people just feel shortness of breath, some people pass out, some people feel light headed, and some people just feel weak,” Dr. Pena said.

Those symptoms cause clots to form in the part of your heart called the atrial appendage. So, Dr. Pena performed an operation to take away that part of Dean’s heart, because he’ll be better off without it. Using magnetic wires inserted through a tube in dean’s chest, Dr. Pena cut off circulation to the atrial appendage. The surgery took two hours and Dean went home the next day. Now, more than a month later he’s back to work.

“I’ve actually gotta put a safe in for somebody tomorrow and then I think I do something in the afternoon, so I’ve got a busy day scheduled tomorrow,” said Dean.

The recovery time is incredible. Dean stayed in the hospital overnight and left the next day. He’ll remain on blood thinners until his surgery’s three month anniversary. Eventually, that part of his heart that no longer has circulation will just disappear and there’s no risk living without it.

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  1. Nancy Stinnett says:

    I am interested in this surgery. I have had Atrial Fib for quite a few years and my heart beats 300-500 beats per minute for hours sometimes. Very uncomfortable. I have seen several doctors regarding ablation surgery but I have hesitated to have a path “burned” into my heart, especially when that surgery may not work. I do not take any medications for the Afib, not even asprin. I am 72 years old and have no other medical condition. How would I go about finding out if this surgery can be performed for me?
    Thank you.
    Nancy Stinnett :>)

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