Atrial Fibrillation: Dawn Of A New Age Or Too Early To Tell?

In short

There’s a bit of a head of steam building up around a new technology which claims to pretty much double the rate of successful ablation treatment  for atrial fibrillation. The evidence now needs third party corroboration if it is to jump into the fast lane and rapidly become the new way of treating these rhythm disorders.


Medical News Today has covered it. MassDevice has covered it. “It” is the output from a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology last week which suggested that researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and Indiana University in the US, have found that the irregular heart rhythms of atrial fibrillation are caused by small electrical localised sources or “hotspots” inside the heart called focal impulses or rotors. Having identified these foci, the researchers duly set about finding a way of mapping them and then zapping them with a new degree of speed, accuracy and outcome.

Sanjiv Narayan, a professor of medicine at UC San Diego, visiting professor at the UCLA Cardiac Arrhythmia Center, and director of electrophysiology at the San Diego Veterans Affairs Medical Center, was quoted as being excited by the results that showed how “brief Focal Impulse and Rotor Modulation (FIRM) guided ablation can shut down the arrhythmia and bring the heart back to a normal rhythm after only minutes of ablation”

Indeed in a study comparing conventional ablation with FIRM-guided ablation, results as published suggest a success rate at two years showing 82.4% freedom from atrial fibrillation episodes compared with only 44.9% in the conventional ablation only group. Furthermore the new procedure was an order of magnitude faster, taking only two and a half minutes compared with what the authors say can be “hours” when large areas need covering.

The researchers have set up a company, Topera Medical on the strength of the discovery and licenced the technology from the University, all of which is disclosed and in the public domain along with the grant funding that enabled the work to be done in the first place. Indeed the company has branded its technology “RhythmView™”,

It will be interesting to see this story develop, not least because what is needed now and expected is evidence to provide third party corroboration of the results collected thus far.

The study authors believe this could flag the dawn of a new age in atrial fibrillation treatment, and they may well be right.

Read the Medical News Today item here.

Source: Medical News Today, Topera Medical