AUBMC Cardiac Arrhythmia Team Performs a Unique Procedure Controlling Heart Beat Disorder without Surgery

AUBMC Cardiac Arrhythmia Team Performs a Unique Procedure Controlling Heart Beat Disorder without Surgery

 Tuesday June 3rd, 2014-Beirut, Lebanon – A complex procedure known as “Epicardial Ventricular Tachycardia Ablation” was performed percutaneously for the first time in Lebanon and the region at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) by the Cardiac Arrhythmia team in the Division of Cardiology of the Department of Internal Medicine. The procedure, which benefits select high-risk patients with heart rhythm abnormalities, is considered to be a first in the Arab World conducted through the skin and without the presence of a surgical team, a technique very few medical centers worldwide can perform.

The procedure, led by Dr. Bernard Abi Saleh, Cardiac Electrophysiologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at AUBMC, with the assistance of Dr Maurice Khoury and Dr Marwan Refaat, was an ablation of ventricular tachycardia – which consists of burning an area causing rapid and dangerous heart beat – in a patient with left ventricular thrombus (blood clot)  inside the heart which precluded performing the traditional ablation whereby a catheter (the wire that burns) enters the cavity of the heart to get to the problem spot. “The heart was accessed from its outer sac without going inside the cavity utilizing a small needle and a catheter. This was done completely percutaneously without any surgical incision,” said Dr. Abi Saleh. The percutaneous approach reduces side effects associated with surgery and allows for quicker recovery time.


This procedure is performed for patients with a clot in the heart or in patients in whom the area causing the dangerous rhythm is closer to the outer layer of the heart muscle.

Statistically most heart rhythm problems originate closer to the inside of the heart, a major contributing factor as to why standard catheter ablation from within the heart is attempted first. Patients with ventricular tachycardia without coronary artery disease are at higher risk to have the heart rhythm problem on the outside of the heart.

"This procedure is not performed in many heart centers because of its complexity. It is technically more challenging but lifesaving in specific cases that are very high risk." added Dr. Abi Saleh. “It takes out the dangerous cardiac arrhythmia that may lead to sudden cardiac death.”

The Cardiac Arrhythmia service at AUBMC has pioneered many cardiac procedures in Lebanon and the region including the first ablation of atrial fibrillation which is an abnormal heart rhythm originating in the top chambers of the heart (atria) and a major cause of stroke. In addition, it was the first center in the Middle East to perform Implantable defibrillator (ICD) implantation and Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy device (CRT-D). The service also acquired a cutting-edge technology, the FFR (fractional flow reserve), which is the most objective and reliable way to evaluate the indication for treating a vessel by angioplasty or surgical technique. The division also utilizes the Angiojet, one of the most effective methods in cleaning blood vessels from clots. In addition, AUBMC established the Inherited Cardiovascular Disease Program.

With cardiovascular disease and stroke being rapidly growing health issues a heart and vascular center that addresses these issues is essential to reducing the burden of the disease in Lebanon and the region, AUBMC have established the framework for the first Heart and Vascular Center of Excellence, set to open in 2015. 

For more information please visit our website or contact:

The AUBMC Office of Communications at 0096 1 350000 ext. 4732

Rana Alley, Director of Strategic Planning and Communications 00961 1 350000 ext. 4722


Note to Editors

About American University of Beirut Medical Center

Since 1902, the American University of Beirut Medical Center has been the most trusted and respected healthcare provider in Lebanon and the region, handling more than 300,000 patient visits annually.  AUB is building on its strong foundations in medical education and health care through the AUBMC 2020 Vision. In addition to improving facilities and capacity, the AUBMC 2020 Vision will establish centers of excellence that will provide new medical options for the treatment of illnesses endemic in the Arab world, and it will expand access to the quality of care that families in Lebanon have depended on for generations.

Launched in 2010, the AUBMC 2020 Vision is an ambitious and comprehensive initiative that affirms AUBMC’s position as the leading medical center and healthcare institution in the region. The AUBMC 2020 Vision is transforming medical education, research and practice, and most importantly, medical care in the region, bringing them to new levels of excellence.  It consists of major new medical (clinical and academic) facilities, the establishment of clinical and research centers of excellence, investment in state-of-the-art equipment, recruitment of talented physicians and nurses, and regional and international partnerships.  Read more at