News on Treating Atrial Fibrillation

Today, the current standard of treatment for atrial fibrillation is to use medication to reduce symptoms to keep arrhythmias under control. When medications no longer work, one treatment option for patients suffering from atrial fibrillation is a procedure called ablation. Ablation uses electrical energy or radiofrequency to destroy or scar certain heart tissue to block the erratic electrical signals responsible for triggering atrial fibrillation.

Cardiologists who treat the heart’s electrical system must use X-rays and magnetic imaging to help guide a traditional catheter ablation system to the estimated location of the irregular impulses. Now electrophysiologists are able to see within the heart and use the HeartLight device to more accurately pinpoint and apply laser heat at the precise area where the extra electrical signals are being produced.

The system incorporates an endoscope, a small camera to allow the cardiologists to see inside a beating heart on a monitor. Using a thin flexible tube known as a catheter, an electrophysiologist inserts a visually guided laser balloon device which enables the physician to more accurately apply laser heat energy outside of the pulmonary vein which is the precise area where the extra electrical signals are being produced.

“The device is unique in its ability to allow doctors to directly see inside the heart in real-time while performing the ablation”, reports Dr. Henry Huang, Electrophysiologist at Rush University Medical Center and a National Physician Proctor for the HeartLight ablation procedure.

Last July, Cardio Focus Inc., the medical device innovator and manufacturer for the HeartLight system headquartered in Massachusetts, launched the Endoscopic Ablation System with Japan Lifeline Co., Ltd (JLL) to distribute the system in Japan.

Today, the system is commercially available at institutions throughout not only Japan, but also in the U.S and Europe. In the U.S., cardiologists at Rush, which is one of two hospitals in Illinois using the HeartLight are able to see inside a beating heart while delivering laser energy during catheter ablation. So far, more than 5,000 patients with atrial fibrillation have been successfully treated with the system.

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