After Catheter Ablation for Afib, Recovery — and a Return to the Water

Dr. Montie-rowing

Atrial fibrillation sapped a U-M doctor of his energy during rowing competitions. After two catheter ablations, he’s rowing strong once again.

It’s a passion he discovered as a high school student and resurrected 25 years ago as a way to stay fit and enjoy the outdoors.

“I love being on the water,” says Montie, “particularly in the morning when it’s calm and the sun is just coming up.”

An emeritus urologist at the University of Michigan, he eventually found himself competing in — and winning — distinguished races, which heightened his love of the sport.

When he began to lose steam toward the end of a few competitions in 2011, Montie — then 65 — at first attributed it to age. “I started to notice in the middle of a race, when I was going really hard, I’d abruptly run out of gas,” he recalls. After a few months, the athlete decided to find out if his lagging energy could be the result of something more serious.

Getting to the heart of the matter

Montie went to see Kim Eagle, M.D., a cardiologist at the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center, where he was diagnosed with intermittent atrial fibrillation (Afib).

Montie was then referred to U-M electrophysiologist Hakan Oral, M.D., who recommended catheter ablation.

For a large percentage of patients, Afib is eliminated with a single procedure. However, for some, a second procedure may be required. Montie felt better after his first ablation and immediately got back to rowing. A year later, though, he realized his atrial fibrillation had returned, requiring a second ablation.

Winning on the water

The procedures haven’t kept Montie from reaching his rowing goals.

In fact, Montie has become a champion rower in his age group. This past summer alone, he won the Henley Masters Regatta in Henley-on-Thames, England, and the USRowing Masters National Championships in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Seeking help when something didn’t feel right after a race was crucial to the patient’s timely diagnosis and treatment plan.

Montie attributes the care he received at U-M for helping him get back out in top form.

“If not for the ablation,” he says, “I would have been stuck on the sidelines.”

Treating Cardiac Arrhythmia at U-M 


The Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at the Frankel CVC is a high volume tertiary referral center for the management of complex arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation, supraventricular and ventricular tachycardia, atrial flutter, premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) and Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome. We also specialize in the care of patients with complex device conditions, such as malfunction of devices and leads, infected devices and extraction of leads and devices.

Each year our dedicated electrophysiologists perform approximately 1,000 ablations and more than 500 device procedures, including pacemakers, ICDs and biventricular pacing devices. We are one of only a few centers in the country with this level of volume and experience. We are also at the forefront of implanting MRI compatible pacemakers, ICDs and subcutaneous ICDs. We are also developing and using “leadless” pacer technology, one of the most remarkable pacing advances of the last decade, as described below.

Leaders in the Field

Our team of cardiologists is one of the first in the state to implant the Medtronic PLC Micra™ Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS) in a patient. The TPS is the world’s smallest pacemaker, delivered percutaneously via a minimally invasive approach directly into the right ventricle without the use of leads. The inch-long device uses small prongs to attach directly to the heart, where it delivers electrical pulses that help the heart beat more regularly. Avoidance of leads can overcome issues of inadequate vascular access, thereby providing novel pacing options for some of our most complex patients.

Volume by Procedure
  2014 2015
Pacemaker 294 305
ICD 389 388
Radiofrequency Ablations 954 971
Cardioversions 591 655
Tilt Table Test 116 136
Cardiac Implantable Electronic Device 111 81

Our team is also one of the first in the nation to use the FDA-approved WATCHMAN™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device, an alternative to blood thinners to prevent stroke in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation. The device closes off the left atrial appendage where blood clots tend to develop, eliminating the need for long-term anticoagulation medication. Patients are evaluated by our team of specialists to determine their eligibility for the device.

In addition to catheter ablations and device procedures, we provide cardiac resynchronization in patients with heart failure.


On the research front, in partnership with the U-M Center for Arrhythmia Research, we are working to create new technologies to facilitate the mapping of complex arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia.  Our combined efforts are moving the field forward in our understanding and treatment of the most challenging and prevalent heart rhythm conditions.


This study tests the hypothesis that market-released CRT devices that contain the AdaptivCRT® (aCRT) algorithm have a superior outcome compared to standard CRT devices in CRT-indicated patients with normal AV conduction and LBBB.


(Sentus QP - Extended CRT Evaluation With Quadripolar Left Ventricular Leads)
 This study is designed to confirm safety and efficacy of BIOTRONIK Sentus OTW QP left ventricular leads to satisfy FDA requirements for regulatory approval of the leads in the US.

Medtronic is sponsoring the World-wide Randomized Antibiotic EnveloPe Infection PrevenTion Trial (WRAP-IT). The purpose is to determine the effectiveness of the study envelope to decrease infections associated with CIED procedures within 12 months after the surgery.

For more information on these and other cardiovascular trials available at U-M, visit .