Physician achieves ablation milestone at TMC

Tucson Medical Center congratulates Dr. Darren Peress on a significant achievement: He has now performed 1,000 stereotactic ablations. The milestone is an accomplishment for Dr. Peress, Tucson Medical Center and patients challenged by an irregular heartbeat.

Dr. Peress is a specialist in cardiac electrophysiology, the study and treatment of the heart’s electrical activity. Put simply, a cardiac electrophysiologist helps when the heartbeat is out of rhythm.

peress-afibAn irregular heartbeat, also called an arrhythmia, can create premature or extra heartbeats, causing palpitations, a “fluttering” feeling in the chest. There are many different types of arrhythmias, ranging from mild to severe.

Serious arrhythmias can also cause chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, stroke or sudden death. The conditions significantly burden a person’s quality-of-life, leaving them with an anxious sense of uncertainty.

To witness him in action is to see careful focus and quiet determination. As Dr. Peress finished the procedure, his colleagues and nurses complimented his work ethic, talent and person. Some singled out his precision and teamwork. Another stressed his commitment to patient care.

Cardiac-electrophysiology procedures are unique because of the skill required, the technology used and the dramatic difference they make in a patient’s quality of life.

“It’s a quickly evolving field,” said Dr. Peress. “It’s impressive how far technology has come. Today, we’re helping patients that had few, if any, options just 15 years ago.”

The soft-spoken physician explained the various ways arrhythmias are treated, noting that procedures have quickly progressed from addressing minor conditions to tackling more complex arrhythmias.

The procedures are interventional (meaning they involve access inside the body) and can take anywhere from 45 minutes to a few hours, depending on the health challenges and needs of each patient.

Most patients are able to head home the same day, and many see dramatic results immediately – able to engage in normal activity without the possibility of vertigo, difficulty breathing and serious heart problems.

peress-steretactic-ablationIt is clear that developing technologies in operation and imaging are the essential elements pushing cardiac-electrophysiology forward. Dr. Peress said he is especially pleased to see efficacy rates increasing as technology advances.

The Stereotaxis equipment is a leading technology that provides very detailed information to the doctor in real time,” Peress said. “Movement and placement can be done more safely and accurately – making it possible to treat certain types of arrhythmias that were extremely challenging before.”

Technology makes a difference, and it is not available everywhere. “TMC is the only hospital in Arizona featuring the Stereotaxis equipment – one of the many reasons I perform my procedures at TMC,” the doctor explained.

When time allows, the busy doctor enjoys traveling with his family. His easy-going nature brought friendly laughter and smiles as he described a recent trip to Vietnam and Cambodia.

After reaching the benchmark of helping 1,000 patients, Dr. Peress was asked what his next goal is. His answer: “A thousand more!”

A chance to meet with Dr. Peress

If you are one of the millions of people struggling with Atrial Fibrillation you can meet Dr. Peress for an interactive presentation highlighting the revolutionary technologies available at TMC for treatment and lifestyle changes for prevention 2pm Sunday, February 12th at The Core.


Dr. Darren Peress is a cardiac electrophysiologist who practices at Pima Heart and completes procedures at Tucson Medical Center.

Keeping Pace with Irregular Heart Beats: TMC’s Electrophysiology Services

Tucson Medical Center is the only hospital in Arizona and one of only 175 medical centers in the world with a state-of-the-art Stereotactic Electrophysiology Suite, in which physicians can detect and robotically correct irregular heartbeats, also called arrhythmias.

And, according to a recently study, Stereotaxis is at least 10 times safer than all other modalities, which will contribute to safer and better outcomes for its patients.

Led by Dr. Darren Peress, one of the technology’s key opinion leaders and educators, the Electrophysiology Suite uses large magnets situated on either side of the patient to safely guide a soft catheter into the patient’s heart. Once there, the tip is used to ablate the tissue responsible for the misfiring behind the arrhythmia. This process significantly reduces the need for X-rays and resulting radiation exposure.

An arrhythmia is an electrical disorder of the heart in which it beats too fast, too slow or irregularly. From bothersome to potentially life-threatening, arrhythmias that cause obvious symptoms such aschest pain, dizziness or a racing heartbeat sensation should be evaluated by a physician.

“We place an ablation catheter through a vein in the leg that allows the catheter to reach the heart,” explains Peress. “We can then heat the tip of the catheter to cauterize any muscle tissue that might be generating abnormal electrical activity.”

The computer-guided catheter, a thin, long and flexible wire with magnets to navigate the way, glides easily against the wall of the heart without puncturing it, making it safer than a manually held catheter. “It’s safe, soft and very precise,” Peress says. “It navigates into places you may not be able to get a manually held catheter. This new technology makes complicated procedures significantly easier and safer.”

The practice of electrophysiology has quickly evolved over the last decade, while physicians’ understanding of arrhythmias has grown significantly. “TMC has made a strong commitment to staying on the cutting edge.”

Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461