Freeze! Health First’s Investment in Painkilling Technology Is Easing Patients’ Recovery

By  //  February 24, 2024

Health First marked 1,000th transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure LAST FALL

EARLIER THIS MONTH, the company AtriCure congratulated Health First Cardiothoracic Surgeon Matthew Campbell, MD, and staff at the Heart Center at Holmes Regional Medical Center for performing its 150th procedure using the company’s cryoSPHERE™ system which manages postoperative pain without drugs. (Health First image)

Cryo nerve block before surgery reduces opioid prescriptions after, surgeon says.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Big surgeries have moved from “open” to laparoscopic (minimally invasive), and even robotic. The result is better outcomes and shorter recoveries, but some discomfort and pain from a major operation is inevitable.

Now, for many chest procedures at Holmes Regional Medical Center, there’s new technology on the pain management front.

Late last year the manufacturer of cryoSPHERE™ for cryo nerve block, AtriCure, congratulated Health First Cardiothoracic Surgeon Matthew Campbell, MD, over a social media channel for using the technology in 150 minimally invasive valve replacement procedures.

AtriCure’s cryo nerve block technology, and  specifically at the Heart Center its cryoSPHERE probe, stuns a nerve bundle between the ribs called the intercostal with targeted, freezing temperatures. The effect is pain receptors in the nerves called axons are deadened. It takes months to regenerate these pain receptors – by that time, the pain from invasive chest procedures such as valve replacements has eased.

“This technology has completely stopped us from having to refill scripts for opioid pain medications, which should come as no surprise to anyone is one of the biggest predictors of addiction origination in patients and nonpatients,” Dr. Campbell said, referring to studies that suggest legally prescribed opioid medications are a gateway to drug addiction for those named on the bottle as well as anyone with access to the medicine cabinet.

“With cryoSPHERE, we have seen an impressive improvement in postoperative pain control,” Dr. Campbell said. “It has easily been the best improvement in our minimally invasive protocols for pain control.”

HEALTH FIRST Cardiothoracic Surgeon Matthew Campbell, MD, says the Heart Center at Holmes Regional Medical Center offers leading-edge valve replacement procedures now with easier recoveries. “With cryoSPHERE™, we have seen an impressive improvement in postoperative pain control. It has easily been the best improvement in our minimally invasive protocols for pain control.” (Health First image)

Last fall, Health First marked its 1,000th transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure. Since 2015 when it began, valve replacement patients at the Heart Center have enjoyed excellent outcomes, often returning home within 1 to 2 days, helping the Heart Center at Holmes Regional establish its place as the leading structural heart program between Jacksonville to South Florida.

Then, in the fall, Health First’s Heart & Vascular Program received 3 stars from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons for its patients’ outcomes and the care they receive following isolated coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) procedures.

View more news stories at HF.org/news.

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