Optically guided RF catheter

Radiofrequency (RF) ablation catheters are becoming a first line therapeutic option for many arrhythmia patients patients. However, current systems do not allow accurate monitoring and control of lesion creation at the tip of the electrode. Even recent commercial devices incorporating different sensors at the distal end only provide indirect measures of the desired effect. In the case of Atrial Fibrillation, imperfectly performed ablation has been linked to short and long-term recurrence. Inadequate energy delivery can produce pops and compromise patient safety.

MedLumics is developing an optically guided device able to image tissue in the vicinity of the electrode. Using an optical analogue of ultrasound, it is able to determine catheter-wall distance and contact quality. Even in the presence of thin layers of blood, light can penetrate and probe the myocardium inside the wall, providing strong contrast between healthy and ablated tissue.

This information, displayed during the navigation and ablation phases, allows creation of continuous lesions with controlled thickness. This is crucial to prevent pulmonary vein reconnection, and recurrence, after initially successful procedures. During energy delivery, the doctor can adjust the applied power as soon as a desired lesion depth is attained, potentially reducing the risk of pops and perforation.