Get our newsletters

St. Luke’s first in Lehigh Valley to offer new treatment for atrial fibrillation


St. Luke’s University Health Network’s cardiac electrophysiology team is first in the Lehigh Valley and Northeastern Pennsylvania to offer pulsed field ablation (PFA), a new and improved treatment for atrial fibrillation (afib).

This common heart rhythm disorder affects nearly 40 million people worldwide and, if not treated, can cause the formation of blood clots or a stroke and congestive heart failure.

The first PFA cases in the Lehigh Valley and Northeastern Pennsylvania were performed on May 6 at the St Luke’s University Hospital Bethlehem Campus. As of mid-May, the team has completed 10 of these procedures. The technology also is available in select major heart centers in New Jersey, New York and throughout the nation.

According to Dr. Steve Stevens, one of five St. Luke’s cardiologist and electrophysiologists who perform ablations routinely, “Pulsed field ablation is a ‘game changer’ that will eventually become the preferred therapy for afib, because: 1) it is much faster than traditional ablation; 2) it is cardio-selective and doesn’t damage other organs near the heart like the esophagus and lungs, which can happen during conventional ablations; and, 3) it can be done with less invasive anesthesia and monitoring techniques since there is less risk to other organs, making it a safer and a less invasive experience for the patient.”

Stevens estimates that the majority of atrial fibrillation ablations will eventually be done with PFA, which received FDA approval in late 2023.

The St. Luke’s cardiac electrophysiologists, Dr. Darren Traub, Dr. Sudip Nanda, Dr. Hardik Mangrolia, Dr. Kevin Mills and Dr. Stevens have trained for over eight years after graduating from medical school to provide the procedure, and are regional experts in all heart rhythm disturbances.

A typical pulsed field ablation procedure will take just 30-60 minutes. Radiofrequency and cryoablation take roughly one to three hours, explained Stevens. “We plan to make PFA a same-day procedure in select patients,” he added.

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.