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Medical innovations: remotely operated robotic magnets to help AFib patients

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MURRAY, Utah (News4Utah) — Robotics in catheter ablation for treatment of atrial fibrillation.
The Stereotaxis’ Remote Magnetic Navigation (RMN) system combined with cardiac mapping has revolutionized the science of cardiac ablation.  Now, catheters, steered by magnetic pull, can reach, map and ablate in the ventricle, reaching locations that prove challenging for manually operated catheters.  In addition, recent studies demonstrate superior tissue/tip contact versus manual and contact force catheters — as important as catheter-reach in ablating VT. Magnetically directed catheters’ soft flexible shafts minimize the occurrences of both intermittent and sliding tissue/tip contact.

Benefits of Remote Magnetic Navigation of catheters:

The pliable nature of the magnetic catheter combined with the precision of computer-assisted navigation allows the physician to reach even the most inaccessible locations in the ventricles
Increases the efficiency of VT ablation by minimizing the occurrence of ventricular ectopy, thus potentially creating a better map to guide VT treatment
Compared to conventional catheter:

Conventional ablation of VT is a very complex task that requires advanced catheter manipulation skills
Conventional mapping is especially challenging due to the frequently unstable nature of these patients
Difficulty in navigating to certain anatomic locations
Tendency of conventional catheters to induce ventricular ectopy and disrupt VT circuits

How is magnetic navigation different?

While a manual catheter ablation uses a catheter that is stiff, difficult to manipulate to the desired spot and may even puncture the heart, remote magnetic navigation differs. Unlike manual methods, remote magnetic navigation enhances a physician’s reach and goes right to the source of the problem. It’s designed with a patient’s safety in mind and delivers a new standard of precision. This breakthrough technology allows a physician to navigate a specialized ultra-soft catheter within complex heart anatomy using less radiation1.  Correcting the arrhythmia and returning the heart to a normal healthy rhythm, patients routinely experience long-term success

When undergoing a procedure using Stereotaxis’ remote magnetic navigation system, a patient is sedated and feels minimal discomfort. Using magnetic navigation, the physician remotely moves the catheter inside the patient’s heart. When the diseased part of the heart is located, tiny electrical pulses are administered to correct the arrhythmia and return the heart to its original healthy rhythm. As an added safety measure, the catheter used is extremely soft and unlikely to damage even the thinnest walls of a patient’s heart.

The magnetic navigation system delivers excellent precision and safety, along with significantly less radiation exposure than manual methods. It is also minimally invasive with minimal scarring. Many patients sense an immediate improvement after recovering from sedation. Many also feel relieved that their doctor had treated their arrhythmia successfully.

Most patients are able to return to their normal, everyday life quickly after just a single night’s stay in the hospital. The main limitation during the recovery period is a brief refrain from heavy lifting or any other vigorous activity. Some patients find that they can even return to work a mere two days after the procedure.

68-year-old Michael Larkins of Draper needed his heart to return to normal rhythm for the second time in 6 years.

But this time, robots would do the work.
It’s possible with the Stereotaxis Remote Magnetic Navigation System.  

Dr. Peter Weiss at Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute is in the control room directing the catheter which is controlled by a magnetic pull.
The patient nearby is hugged by the instrument’s large magnets.
Dr. Weiss, ‘The robotic system allows us to move the catheter in a very controlled fashion within the body. Not only that, the catheter itself is floppy as opposed to being stiff in traditional procedures when we stand next to the patient’s hip and move the catheter using our hands from the hip. Catheters during manual ablation have to be stiff to move it in and out and direct where they need to go.’
The technology was just coming on line when Michael needed his first ablation. He underwent a traditional manual ablation. Several years later,
Intermountain Medical Center is closing in on 1000 procedures, half of them, for AFib.
Dr. Weiss now uses the innovation for 90 percent of his procedures.
Here’s a link to a video of Dr. Weiss talking about robotics use in catheter ablation for treatment of atrial fibrillation –

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