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Improving cardiac ablation treatment with virtual heart mapping

May 22, 2014


At the recent Heart Rhythm Scientific Sessions in San Francisco, May 2014, Johns Hopkins BME professor Dr. Natalia Trayanova gave a presentation at a session on innovations in treating ventricular tachycardia, a lethal rhythm disorder in the heart, in patients with myocardial infarction. She discussed her research on cardiac ablation — a treatment that permanently eliminates the arrhythmia by destroying the patient heart tissue that maintains the arrhythmia. Finding the right location to ablate in the patient’s heart is currently rather difficult.

To find that, patients must undergo a 4- to 10-hour interrogation with a probe, of the electrical functioning of the heart. In addition to being invasive, this approach yields a low level of success: 51% following initial therapy.

Dr. Trayanova’s team is exploring whether the patient’s virtual heart could be used to noninvasively determine the optimal ablation targets with a lot more accurately.

Dr. Trayanova intends to construct the model from the patient’s pre-ablation MRI scans. The patient’s virtual heart would then be used to analyze all the arrhythmias that could develop in this particular heart, and to establish the ablation regions that are optimal, i.e. the tissue regions that, when destroyed, lead to termination of all possible arrhythmias with minimum number of burns. This will significantly shorten the procedure while decreasing complications, and will increase its success rate and efficacy.

Adoption of this methodology in the clinic could thus have a dramatic impact — significantly reducing healthcare costs while improving patient well-being.

The newsletter Medical Device Daily captured the excitement of this research with an article on its first page.