Two local heart doctors recently teamed up for a procedure that has only been done a handful of times in the nation.

In March at Sparks Regional Medical Center, Dr. German Kamalov of the Cardiology Center at Sparks and Dr. Ronald Kantola of Arkansas Heart Center conducted a cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) for a biventricular defibrillator.

Kamalov, a cardiac electrophysiologist, had studied the rare approach to CRT, but had not performed it.

A defibrillator is an electrical device that provides a shock to the heart when there is a life-threatening arrhythmia present. CRT is used to treat the delay in heart ventricle contractions that occur in some people whose hearts pump at a slower, weaker rate.

The therapy involves implanting an electronic, battery-powered device under the skin. The device has two or three leads, or wires, that send impulses in the heart to help it beat in a more balanced way. In this case, the patient was not a candidate for the traditional implantation of a left ventricular lead or cardiac surgery.

This surgery required a two-physician team, with one doctor gaining access to the left side of the heart from the groin and the other doctor simultaneously working from the chest where the original defibrillator was inserted.

With a month of planning and just a small stack of studies to refer to, Kamalov and Kantola successfully implanted the wire to the left ventricle of the heart to resynchronize the patient’s heart rhythm.

Because of this rare procedure, the physicians were able to reduce the patient’s symptoms of heart failure, as well as avoid an invasive heart surgery.

“It was a challenge, but we were able to combine our experiences to provide a solution for this patient,” Kamalov said in a news release.

Kamalov joined Sparks in October of 2014 as the area’s only cardiac electrophysiologist and since then, has performed many procedures to treat and correct heart rhythm irregularities that were not available in Fort Smith before.

Kantola has been practicing cardiology in the Fort Smith area for more than 11 years and is a member of Arkansas Heart Center.