Heartbeat in time
Atrial flutter is a cardiac arrhythmia emanating from the heart atria. A healthy individual’s heart has a resting heart rate of an average 70 heartbeats a minute. With patients affected by the condition, the rhythm may even double, causing unpleasant rapid heartbeat that is also referred to as flutter. Circulating electrical excitations in the atrium that also spread to the heart chamber are the reason for this raised frequency.
State of the art
In most cases, medicaments or electrocardioversion – regulating the heart rhythm with targeted electric shocks – can stop atrial flutter. However, persistent complaints have to be treated with a so-called catheter ablation. Here, a catheter is fed into the atrium affected, where it first measures the electrical activity of the atrium tissue: signal strength and activation time, both of which give clues to the spatial distribution of excitation. This data is visualised in a three-dimensional image and serves the cardiologist as a basis for deciding at which point ablation is to be performed. Once it has been found, the tissue there is heated with the aid of the catheter tip, so that it develops tiny ablation scars. These scars prevent the transmission of the false impulses, and the heart can beat normally again.
So far, no automated system has been developed to find suitable ablation points – alone the physician’s experience counts. At the KIT Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBT), scientists have now worked on a system that can analyse atrial flutter and identify potential treatment points for ablation. This is accomplished with an algorithm that derives the critical tissue surfaces from a temporal-spatial measurement of signal activity over the full heart cycle and visualises them in a 3-D image.
Areas demonstrating continuous activity on a small surface are especially suitable points for ablation. With the aid of the diagnostic support system developed at KIT, cardiologists can also perform patient-customised treatment of complex atrial flutter cases.
Options for companies
KIT is looking for industrial partners to apply the technology in practice.
Your contact person for this offer
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Head of Technology Transfer, Innovation and Relations Management (IRM)
Phone: +49 721 608-25582