10-Minute Interview:
Angel Leon, MD

Emory Crawford Long Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia
Emory Crawford Long Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia
We were first introduced to Dr. Leon in our November/December 2003 issue, in which his hospital s EP lab was spotlighted. This month we take a closer look at his accomplishments. Why did you choose to work in the field of electrophysiology? I became exposed to electrophysiology while in college and medical school, while I worked in a cellular micropuncture lab.  I began my cardiology fellowship with interventional cardiology in mind, but after completing half of my interventional training year at Emory, I changed paths and went to the University of Michigan for EP training. I returned to Emory as faculty, opening the EP Lab at Emory Crawford Long Hospital in 1992. I was always intellectually interested in EP, and when interventional procedures became available in EP with the introduction of catheter ablation...it was an easy decision.   In 1997, you and your colleagues were the first in Georgia to perform a biventricular pacemaker implantation. Please describe what that experience was like. How did you become involved? How has technology changed in that short period of time? We were the first in Georgia to implant a biventricular pacing device. At that time, we were somewhat skeptical about the potential benefit and entered the clinical trial in an effort to help answer the question. Fortunately, we have one of the largest and best heart failure programs in the country. Andy Smith, MD, who directs the Center for Heart Failure Therapy at Emory, joined us in the effort and committed his program to making us a leader in the therapy.  The technology  in resynchronization therapy evolved quickly,  with over-the-wire technology, selective pacing, and smaller devices hitting clinical trials and the market in a very short period of time. The new leads are easier to implant, and newer devices make the therapy easier to tailor to the patient. In addition, you performed the first implantation in the U.S. of the Medtronic InSync cardiac resynchronization therapy system. Were there any complications following this? How is the patient today? The new Medtronic device we implanted was a biventricular pacing device with variable RV to LV timing. The patient is still doing fine. When did you acquire the Vivid 7 Vantage Echocardiography system? What are the benefits of this technology? The Vivid 7 Echo-TDI system allows us to use tissue doppler imaging to characterize tissue motion and better measure the degree of dyssynchrony in candidates for resynchronization therapy. We believe we can better select patients who will respond to therapy, and possibly exclude some who would not respond.   What changes do you think will occur in the field of electrophysiology in the coming decades? Electrophysiology is rapidly evolving. You will see better techniques for ablating atrial fibrillation, increasing transcutaneous access to the pericardium for mapping and lead delivery for pacing, and the use of the internet for device and patient management. These changes are already here. The long-term future probably will see applications of gene technology and stem-cell work to treat arrhythmia and repair abnormal electrophysiology. Readers, nominate your favorite EP physician for a 10-minute interview! Email us at eplabdigest@aol.com, and we will send you some information!