'Smart' Cardiac Catheter Could Speed Arrhythmia Treatment, Improve Safety
"If you look at rates of morbidity in these procedures, they closely correlate to time," says John Rogers of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of the researchers who developed the stretchable electronics. "Anything that you can do to make this faster is safer. And, it requires a lot less skill on the part of the surgeon."
In addition to being significantly faster, and potentially safer, the device may also deliver greater efficacy. Since the device will be able to give the cardiologist feedback, he or she will know exactly how much tissue they need to ablate for greater precision. "We currently give a dose that we think is right," said Dr. Marvin Slepian, M.D. at the University of Arizona, and a lead researcher on the project. "Sometimes, it's too little and sometimes too much. Being able to have additional intelligence in terms of the amount of energy being dispersed would tell us about appropriate dosing, history, and control."
Dr. Slepian talked about what this kind of technology means to hospitals and practice managers. "The implication of this is huge on all levels," he said. Greater efficacy means fewer complications, more success, and fewer rehospitalizations. He adds that, on a practical level, there will be fewer catheters on the shelf taking up valuable hospital storage space, and the instant feedback from the device means less time in the lab.
Because the catheter is not technically a new therapy, but only changes the way a therapy is delivered, it will likely be considered by the FDA "substantially equivalent" to a device already on the market. That means approval could come within the next 12 to 18 months.
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