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Magnetically guided catheter zaps atrial fibrillation

(BETHESDA, MD) A remotely-controlled catheter device guided by magnetic fields provides a safe and practical method for delivering radio frequency ablation treatment in the hearts of patients with atrial fibrillation, according to a new study in the April 4, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"Based on our experience with remote navigation and ablation technology, a new era in interventional electrophysiology is beginning as magnetic, very soft catheters can be navigated in the heart more precisely and safely than manual catheters without risk of major complications, even in less experienced centers," said Carlo Pappone, M.D., Ph.D. from the Department of Electrophysiology, San Raffaele University Hospital in Milan, Italy.

Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm in which the upper chambers of the heart flutter, and do not pump blood normally. If the condition cannot be managed with medications, some patients are treated with radio frequency ablation. The technique uses a high energy pulse to destroy a small area of heart muscle cells, in order to prevent them from conducting nerve signals that trigger fibrillation.

Typically the radio frequency pulse is emitted by from the tip of a catheter threaded through blood vessels into the heart until it is positioned next to the target area. Conventional catheters are somewhat stiff, so they can be pushed and pulled through blood vessels, and their tips can be curled and pointed by an operator standing by the patient. The device tested in this trial uses a very soft, limp tip that has a magnet on the end. Rather than manually pointing the catheter tip, the operator of this device uses a computer to control a magnetic field that robotically moves the catheter tip. The principle is the same as a compass needle pointing to magnetic north; allowing this device to steer the magnetic catheter in three dimensions to a target visualized on 3-D scans
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Contact: Amy Murphy
amurphy@acc.org
301-581-3476
American College of Cardiology
30-Mar-2006


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