Cutting-edge robotics to treat cardiac arrhythmias

April 5, 2011, Rush University

Cardiac experts who fix arrhythmias, which are electrical problems of the heart, must perform complex catheter procedures while the heart is still beating in order to pinpoint where an electrical malfunction is taking place. Now, electrophysiologists at Rush University Medical Center are using a new robotic system that allows them to treat abnormal heart rhythms with greater precision.

Rush is the first academic medical center in Chicago to use the Sensei Robotic Catheter system, aflexible robotic platform that integrates advanced levels of catheter control with 3D visualization.

The tool has a and flexible catheter system that enables physicians to maneuver into places in the difficult to reach by traditional methods.

“The robotic system enhances a doctor's natural ability to navigate the heart, provides a greater level of catheter stability and we believe it will contribute to improved procedural outcomes," said Dr. Kousik Krishnan, director of the Arrhythmia Device Clinic at Rush. He is also an assistant professor of medicine at Rush University.

The robotic system is used in a procedure, called a catheter ablation, which treats irregular heartbeats such as atrial fibrillation. A catheter that is inserted into the heart from a vein in the leg is used to deliver heat energy to small areas of the heart muscle and eliminate the abnormal rhythm.

Prior to the introduction of robotic technology, the majority of electrophysiology (EP) procedures were done using a manual technique requiring physicians to perform a series of complex manipulations to guide the tip of the catheter by gently pushing, pulling and turning one end of the catheter while the other end was inside a patient’s heart. As a result, achieving stable contact at every anatomic site within the heart necessary for a successful EP procedure could be difficult.

With the robotic system, rather than standing over the patient, the physician sits at a work station, where he or she manipulates the catheter by operating a joy stick. The movement of the catheter is displayed on a computer screen. For example, when the physician moves the joystick to the right, guide wires embedded in the catheter move the catheter in that direction.

"You get more precise control of the catheter than you can by hand," said Krishnan. "You can move the catheter millimeter by millimeter in the heart to the exact place you want it to go."

The provides greater precision and accuracy for better mapping and more exact targeting of abnormal tissue. By constantly measuring the force of the catheter, the correct amount of pressure is consistently applied. The destroys targeted tissue without damaging the heart wall.

The system can reduce procedural times for complex arrhythmias, which typically take 5 to 6 hours to complete, by 20 to 30 percent Shorter procedures significantly decrease a patient’s exposure to radiation used to image the heart. In addition, the work station can be positioned outside of the patient treatment area to reduce the physicians’ repeated exposure to radiation.

“This changes the way we perform complex cardiac procedures, especially those for atrial fibrillation,” said Krishnan.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of irregular heartbeat that affects more than two million Americans. Complex cardiac arrhythmias can cause more than 850,000 hospitalizations annually. With this complex arrhythmia the atria or upper chambers of the heart beat rapidly and never adequately fill the ventricles or lower chambers with the blood. This condition is responsible for 75,000 strokes each year because of blood clot formation within the quivering atria, and these numbers continue to escalate as the population grows older.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Scientists in Germany improve malaria drug production

February 21, 2018
Scientists in Germany who developed a new way to make a key malaria drug several years ago said Wednesday they have come up with a technique to make the process even more efficient, which should increase global access and ...

Products derived from plants offer potential as dual-targeting agents for experimental cerebral malaria

February 21, 2018
Malaria, a life-threatening disease usually caused when parasites from the Plasmodium family enter the bloodstream of a person bitten by a parasite-carrying mosquito, is a severe health threat globally, with 200 to 300 million ...

Early results from clinical trials not all they're cracked up to be, shows new research

February 21, 2018
When people are suffering from a chronic medical condition, they may place their hope on treatments in clinical trials that show early positive results. However, these results may be grossly exaggerated in more than 1 in ...

Spare parts from small parts: Novel scaffolds to grow muscle

February 20, 2018
Australian biomedical engineers have successfully produced a 3D material that mimics nature to transform cells into muscle.

Clues to obesity's roots found in brain's quality control process

February 20, 2018
Deep in the middle of our heads lies a tiny nub of nerve cells that play a key role in how hungry we feel, how much we eat, and how much weight we gain.

Study looks at how newly discovered gene helps grow blood vessels

February 19, 2018
A new study published today found that a newly discovered gene helps grow blood vessels when it senses inadequate blood flow to tissues.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.