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Kenley Jansen needs offseason surgery for heart condition, but hopes to pitch this month

Sep 5, 2012, 10:15 AM EDT

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Kenley Jansen has been sidelined since August 27 after a re-occurrence of his irregular heartbeat, but yesterday he was examined by a specialist and told that he’ll likely be able to pitch again by the middle of the month.

Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports that Jansen will take blood thinners for the next 10 days before potentially coming back around September 17, although doctors have advised the Dodgers closer that he’ll need surgery once the season is over.

According to Dilbeck “the heart procedure Jansen is considering is called cardiac ablation, which typically inserts a small catheter through a vein and through to the heart, where an electrical charge is used to destroy the problem areas of the heart.”

Jansen seems optimistic about undergoing the surgery because it would allow him to cease taking medication and obviously the fact that doctors think he can pitch again this season is a positive sign. He hasn’t become a household name yet, but Jansen has been as good as any reliever in baseball since debuting in 2010 and has thrived as a closer this year with a 2.54 ERA and 86/19 K/BB ratio in 57 innings.

  1. scotttheskeptic - Sep 5, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    On bloodthinners and 60 feet 6 inches from a line drive… doable, but fraught with risk.

  2. raysfan1 - Sep 5, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    He shouldn’t need any stronger blood thinner going forward than aspirin. If he were going to take Coumadin or Pradxa then he would nor be allowed in the dugout, let alone on the field.

    He will very likely be on medication to regulate the heart rate. Those medications also affect blood pressure, so they will have to be careful with dosing to avoid side effects like fainting.

    The cardiac ablation procedure itself, while it of course has some risk, is fairly routine and usually has very good results. I have had fighter pilots who got to fly again after the procedure, so I expect he will be fine next season.

    • cur68 - Sep 5, 2012 at 2:21 PM

      Lets hope they get it this time. I’m not sure if its a case where the original ablation failed to ablate the generating cluster or accessory pathway or if there’s more than one spot doing the deed. Do you know which it is or which it likely is? Either way I hope this is it for him. Gotta be scary nearly fainting every time your heart does the funky chicken.

      • raysfan1 - Sep 5, 2012 at 9:33 PM

        Could be either. Multiple aberrant foci isn’t real common but not impossible. However, it is also possible they did not completely ablate the known focus last time.

    • scotttheskeptic - Sep 5, 2012 at 7:23 PM

      A hit like the one Brandon McCarthy took is potentially fatal, even on 1 grain of ASA daily.

      • raysfan1 - Sep 5, 2012 at 9:35 PM

        A direct hit like the one he took is potentially fatal on zero medication.

  3. jarathen - Sep 5, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    Good lord that sounds terrible. Doctors might think of it as routine, but the phrase “inserts a small catheter through a vein and through to the heart, where an electrical charge is used to destroy the problem areas of the heart” is about the most terrifying thing this side of whatever music teenagers are listening to these days.

    • raysfan1 - Sep 5, 2012 at 9:39 PM

      True enough. I use the term routine to indicate that, bad as it sounds, it is pretty safe and effective. The option a patient faces with Jansen’s condition is a scary sounding procedure that can permanently fix the problem, or medication every day forever.

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