Epicardial-Cathode Catheter for Ablation Procedures
Two million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation, which can cause palpitations, syncope, strokes and is associated with death. Cardiac ablations are becoming a standard method of treatment utilizing radiofrequency energy to render tissue, which is electrically faulty, inactive. However, AF ablation comes with significant risks. Specifically, ablation in the posterior left atrial wall can damage adjacent structures such as the phrenic nerve and the esophagus. This has caused deaths in post-AF ablation patients.
The fundamental problem is that while ablation is performed endocardially, many triggers for AF are located epicardially. Thus, radiofrequency energy must reach all the way through the heart wall tissue to the epicardium. However, this epicardium is usually located adjacent to the lungs, phrenic nerve, and esophagus. Ideally, a tool that would allow one to deliver RF energy across the entire heart muscle wall but then stop just short of adjacent structures would greatly aid in the performance of epicardial procedures. This would cause transmural burns but prevent damage to the adjacent structures. .
Dr. Srijoy Mahapatra, an electrical engineer and practicing cardiologist, and Dr. George Gillies, professor of mechanical engineering both at the University of Virginia have teamed their significant scientific and engineering expertise to develop a suite of new tools specifically designed for subxiphoid epicardial access, ablation, and drug infusion. .
The present invention is an epicardial ablation-cathode catheter, or “Epi-Cath” to be used in conjunction with standard radiofrequency ablation catheters. This newly developed catheter promises improved safety of any sort of cardiac ablation procedure. By utilizing rotational orientation means and fluid irrigation, the catheter can be positioned appropriately within the pericardium, while increasing the distance between the heart and adjacent tissues, to allow for safety of the esophagus and lung. In addition, the Epi-Cath acts as a current sick to prevent energy from reaching structures outside the pericardium. The Epi-Cath catheter, when used in conjunction with standard radiofrequency ablation catheters, should allow for much more precise radiofrequency burns in the heart tissue, with less damage to adjacent structures including the lung and phrenic nerve, thus minimizing possible burn complications or death.
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