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My Bordeaux Ablation Part 2 - The Procedure
June 27, 2018 10:53AM
Arrived after a turbulent flight at Bordeaux Airport Sunday 10th June where I was met by two members of my religion who took me to the Hotel Campanile where they got me and my wife booked in for the the night. They returned at 6.30 next morning and took us to the L'Hopital Haut Leveque. Quite an old and somewhat dimly lit building. They went through the check-in procedure and went with us to our room on the 3rd floor. A good sized room with a bed, armchair and a shower room off it. Anne and I were a bit puzzled as to where she would be sleeping till we were shown that the armchair could be pulled out to use as her bed for the next 4 nights.

A nurse whose English was a bit better than our schooldays French asked numerous questions about my general health and Afib history, filled in a long form and had me sign it. Another nurse shaved my chest and groin and I was given a special gel/soap and took a shower. I then dressed in the usual open at the back (I was allowed to wear underpants!) gown and put on a pair of protective “socks”.This all lasted until 8.50 a.m when I was told there would be two ablations that day and I would be second. Let me say at this point the nurses – and there were many – were all excellent; friendly and efficient.

I then had a hungry wait until 1.30 when I was wheeled in my bed along many corridors and into the operating theatre. The operation itself is a bit of a blur. Dr Jais, who was doing the Ablation with Dr Hocini, introduced himself briefly and a nurse inserted a needle in my forearm for administering medication and another gave me a local anaesthetic in the upper/inner thigh where the skin was cut and peeled back to insert three catheters (or is it I catheter with 3 wires in it?). The insertion of the catheters would be painful and I presume this was when I was given Morphine because I have no clear recollection of what happened for a long time after that. I did become fully aware when they asked me (it's a bit disconcerting that no one is visible throughout the procedure) to tell them if there was any pain. There was nothing too serious but I felt each burn after that.

There was then a long period during which nothing seemed to be happening and I eventually moved a little which earned a swift rebuke from the invisible Prof Jais. The final part of the procedure was obviously quite difficult.

Eventually I was wheeled back to my room where I had to lie on my back for about 2 hours when I was given tubs of fruit comfit and yoghurt. (Lots to eat throughout and very good but very different from my usual diet). Very little sleep that night as 2 nurses came in every 2 hours to check blood pressure and do various other procedures – too sleepy to remember much.

Lots of tests & procedures during the next day too. At noon I was able to get up and move around a bit and arm drips and foley catheter were removed. I was now on Pradaxa 450 mg, Flecainide 100 mg and an anti-inflammatory – all taken twice a day. A young Doctor came and used a small ultrasound device and found fluid around the heart. He said this might have to be drained. I was surprised when a nurse removed the stitches where the catheters were inserted at this time - seemed very quick.

The 3rd day I was taken to have a much more thorough ultrasound scan. I was able to watch the screen. It lasted over 40 minutes with two technicians discussing everything in great detail. Sadly I couldn't understand anything they were saying and was convinced by the end that something was seriously wrong. It was a great relief when they told me everything was fine and the fluid was decreasing & wouldn't need to be drained.

Later that day Dr Hocini called to explain what had been done. She speaks perfect English. She drew a diagram of the heart and showed where they had burned oblong lines around each of the two pairs of Pulmonary veins and then lines across the centre of the oblongs to separate them. At first I thought this was all that had been done but I should have realised that the 3 hours taken for the op was much longer than for just a PVI. They had been able to stimulate Afib again (I presume. She didn't say as much) but she showed me where they had burned a line in the right atrium at the SVC. That was when I knew I had made the right choice. The top UK Ablationist would have done only PVI at the first operation (to the best of my knowledge) and I would have had to go back for a second one when the SVC problem had put me in Afib again. Also Dr Ernst & Schilling would have kept me in hospital just the one day and at Bordeaux I had 4 days of intensive nursing.

There are three things I regret.
One that I didn't ask Dr Hocini a lot more questions but I was told Prof Jais would come and see me and I assumed this would be a thorough discussion of everything.
Two that I didn't emphasise to the nurses strongly enough my problem with constipation; how bad it was. As a result I still have serious impaction. Hopefully the Laxilo I was prescribed here on Saturday will do the job in the next day or so.
Three that I didn't spend more time improving my French.

Does any of that make me regret my decision to go there? Absolutely not! This was definitely the place to go and I highly recommend it.

PS The check list says do blood tests during the week before the op. With the op on a Monday I assumed the previous Monday would be fine. It wasn't; they had to do them again.
Re: My Bordeaux Ablation Part 2 - The Procedure
June 27, 2018 11:49AM
Hello Sam - So pleased for your outcome and your satisfaction with choosing Bordeaux.
Thanks for such a detailed report. I wish you a prompt and ‘uneventful’ recovery and NSR forever more.

Kind regards,
Re: My Bordeaux Ablation Part 2 - The Procedure
June 27, 2018 02:56PM
So interesting to read your report. Fascinating how differently things are done in France vs elsewhere. Thanks for sharing and the very best to you.

Curious if they will ask you to stop the anti-arrhythmic at some point?
Re: My Bordeaux Ablation Part 2 - The Procedure
June 27, 2018 03:33PM
I will learn in 3 months whether to stop the Flecainide. I'm assuming i will stop them.
Re: My Bordeaux Ablation Part 2 - The Procedure
June 28, 2018 02:19AM
Great report Sam - much appreciated. Hoping that the impaction eases soon.


Re: My Bordeaux Ablation Part 2 - The Procedure
June 29, 2018 06:03AM
Thanks for this detailed report. Wish you the best.
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