A team of doctors and mechanical engineers from North Carolina State and Duke universities have been working on a computer controlled atrial ablation catheter that can provide greater articulation with increased precision. Plans are in the works to begin surgical evaluations next year, probably in animal models.
Existing commercial catheters are manually controlled and can only move in two directions. These catheters require doctors to painstakingly manipulate the catheter to control exactly where each individual lesion should be applied.
But the robotic catheter developed by Buckner’s team significantly reduce operating times, utilizing “smart materials” to provide significantly better maneuverability. The smart materials act as internal muscles, contracting when an electric current is applied. This allows the catheter to bend left, right, up, down or any combination of those directions. Furthermore, doctors can use a specialized joystick to locate key points on the atrium. A computer program can then trace a curve along those points – essentially connecting the dots – creating a solid line of scar tissue that will block the electric signals causing fibrillation.
Press release: Robotic Catheter Could Improve Treatment of Heart Condition…