Overlake Hospital Medical Center's electrophysiology program is using new pressure feedback technology to increase success rates in a procedure to cure atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of heart arrhythmia and
currently affects 2.5 million American adults. In a heart suffering from atrial
fibrillation, irregular electrical signals are produced in the heart, creating
a fast or irregular heartbeat.
In the 1990s Doctor Michael Haissaguerre and his team identified electrical
signals from the pulmonary veins as the cause of atrial fibrillation.
Haissaguerre then originated the technique of isolating signals from the
pulmonary veins as a cure.
This procedure is now commonly conducted surgically by a catheter device
inserted up an artery in the leg which allows the surgeon to map the interior
of the heart. After this is completed, the surgeon uses radio frequency to
create lesions around the pulmonary vein, creating a barrier to unwanted
electrical signals. This surgery provides a less invasive alternative to an
To perform this procedure accurately, surgeons need to apply the perfect
amount of pressure with the tip of the catheter on the walls of the heart. If
too little pressure is applied lesions will not form effectively and if too
much pressure is applied the tissue could be perforated. Previously surgeons
had to perform this procedure somewhat blind in terms of the pressure applied,
causing a 10 to 20 percent error rate where surgeons applied too little pressure.
Today, Overlake is the first hospital to use the ThermoCool SmartTouch, a
catheter that provides computer feedback on the amount of pressure being
applied during atrial fibrillation procedures. According to the Bellevue
Reporter, before the introduction of the TermoCool SmartTouch, surgeons with
Overlake had been able to achieve an 80 to 90 percent success rate of
non-recurrence in patients. The new catheter improves accuracy in the amount of
pressure applied and has the ability to create 3D maps of the interior of the
Earlier this month, Overlake Hospital demoed the new technology for
reporters. Check out Daniel Nash's piece from Monday's Bellevue Reporter here!