Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is a common heart rhythm disease often treated using catheters inserted in the heart to “burn” the tissue responsible for the disease (i.e. to make lesions). Unfortunately, the motion of the heart as it beats and the patient breathes can affect the contact the catheter makes with the heart during the therapy delivery. This can result in ineffective lesions – nearly half the time patients return for a second “re-do” procedure.
Recent commercially available catheters can measure the force between the catheter-tip and the heart wall and physicians use that information while making lesions. Unfortunately, they have no way to keep force constant. We have developed a device – called the Catheter Contact-Force Controller (CFC) – that can be used in conjunction with the force-sensing catheters to adjust the position of the catheter tip and thereby to control contact force.
The aim of this project is to develop a production-ready CFC system that can be evaluated by physicians in patients with AF. We will work with a design company to develop prototypes, test them, and acquire approval prior to clinical evaluation. Ultimately, we will manufacture the devices and make them available to physicians treating AF worldwide.
Dr. Maria Drangova PhD
Scientist/Professor at Robarts Research Institute and Department of Medical Biophysics
In the clinical arena, Maria works with cardiologists and engineers toward developing better ways to identify disease and deliver therapy more effectively. One such area is the treatment of electrophysiological diseases of the heart. RF ablation treatment is usually performed using a catheter that is maneuvered in the left atrium and requires tremendous expertise; procedure times are long – 3 hours or more. Although the treatment is effective in approximately 65-70% of patients, many must return for repeat procedures because the ablation of the tissues did not completely resolve the rhythm disorder. Most often this happens because some tissues were not completely ablated and some regions were missed entirely. The goal of our work is to use 3D images of the patient’s heart to develop techniques that reduce procedure times and the requirement for repeat ablations. We are working to achieve this by developing patient-specific devices, robotic navigation of the ablation catheters, as well as ways of improving the guidance of the procedure.