Demographics in the Magic City are changing and because of these changing markets, the need to adapt health care is necessary.
This is what Dr. Christopher Phillips is doing and, as he said, he has some tricks up his sleeve.
"I'll continue to adapt to the needs of the community," said Phillips, a cardiovascular/thoracic surgeon with Trinity Health.
Submitted Photo - - Dr. Christopher Phillips, center, a cardiovascular/thoracic surgeon with Trinity Health, performs a medical procedure using an AtriClip. Assisting Phillips are, from left, Sara Grosz, surgical technician; Stacy Brey, first assistant, and Trisha Boyeff, operating room nurse. The procedure was being recorded for promotional purposes by a representative from AtriCure, the maker of the AtriClip.
There are a few innovative procedures relating to the heart that are being performed at Trinity.
In the state, Gary Lord has been the sole recipient of the Florida Sleeve, a procedure that allows Phillips to preserve a patient's natural heart tissue while correcting some of the multiple issues that can arise in patients with an enlarged aorta due to a congenital heart murmur.
"This technique allowed us to reconstruct the root and ascending aneurysm, as well as replace damaged valve, which could not be salvaged, in half the time and risk of the older technique," Phillips said. "For patients who still have relatively normal valves, reconstruction of the aortic root and annulus can result in a preserved and competent native aortic valve while still removing the supra-coronary aneurysm."
Maintaining the tissue prolongs the survival of the patient, based on the fact that the tissue is ultimately better for the heart physiology, he added.
Lord was diagnosed with a leaking damaged aortic valve, as well as a dilated enlarged root and ascending aneurysm.
"With the Florida Sleeve we were able to spare the native aortic valve while eliminating the ascending aortic aneurysm and dilated root," Phillips said. "This new procedure vastly simplifies the surgical challenges of reconstructing the root and ascending aneurysm as well as the valve that is affected by annular dilation."
On average, this procedure is only done about 30 to 40 times a year in the nation.
"If I hadn't gotten treatment, I would have been in big trouble," Lord said in a press release issued by Trinity Health. "Dr. Phillips is a good healer."
Phillips arrived at Trinity in March 2010, fresh from the Cleveland Clinic, in Ohio, where he was on staff for about a year-and-a-half. It was at the Cleveland Clinic that he learned the Florida Sleeve procedure, as well as the AtriClip, a woven rectangular collar that fits over the left atrial appendage and contracts, cutting off the supply of blood. Phillips uses the AtriClip to treat atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat in which the two upper chambers of the heart beat rapidly and unpredictably.
Atrial fibrillation, or a-fib, "is the most under treated form of heart disease," Phillips said. "A-fib causes 25 percent of all strokes, and studies show that 90 percent of all arythmias originate from the left atrial appendage."
"The left atrium receives oxygen-rich blood from the lungs though the pulmonary vein," Phillips explained. "During atrial fibrillation, blood can pool in the heart and form clots which can escape and be carried to the brain, causing a stroke. Seventy percent of these strokes are fatal."
The AtriClip is usually used as a last resort, when blood thinning medications don't work or aren't feasible. The clip fits over the left atrial appendage and contracts, cutting off the supply of blood.
Phillips noted that the risk of a stroke related to atrial fibrillation is reduced by 90 percent after the AtriClip is used.
The use of these procedures, Phillip said, will help shed light on changing, or perhaps reinventing, cardiac care in central North Dakota by providing the technology and equipment not found elsewhere in the state.