New Steerable Catheter Targets Cardiac Arrhythmia

Kristopher Sturgis

August 5, 2016

3 Min Read
New Steerable Catheter Targets Cardiac Arrhythmia

The new catheter technology, developed in the U.K., enables targeted delivery of radio frequency energy to specific points in heart tissue.

Kristopher Sturgis

King's College Heart Catheter

Researchers at  King's College in London and the Cambridge Design Partnership (CDP) have developed a novel treatment for cardiac arrhythmia.

Kawal Rhode, professor of biomedical engineering at King's College and one of the lead researchers on the project, says this new device is unlike any conventional catheter technology because of its ability to target specific points in the heart. 

"The catheter has an innovative tip design that allows it to be steered in any direction," Rhode says. "This is different from most current catheters that can only bend in one direction. The catheter works by having a number of pull wires that run along its length and allow it to be steered, rather like a puppet."

Rhode says that being able to steer the catheter with precision will offer a significant advantage over traditional catheter technologies, as complex catheter movements are required during the interventional treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. Offering doctors a catheter technology with highly maneuverable capabilities will offer a range of benefits to the patient, including a shorter, simpler procedure.

"Since the catheter treatment of cardiac arrhythmia involves purposefully damaging the muscle of the heart using radio-frequency heating, it is imperative that the damage is carried out in an accurately targeted way," Rhode says. "Catheters that can be predictably controlled are crucial to ensure this . This device may reduce procedure time and also radiation dose to patients, since these procedures are carried out using X-ray guidance. Furthermore, it's totally compatible with MRI technologies, so it may be used in total ionising radiation-free environments."

As Rhode mentioned, conventional catheter technologies can be rather limited as they typically only bend in one direction. Earlier this year we even saw catheters show up on thetop 10 list of medtech recalls of early 2016, as Cook Medical recalled over 400,000 Beacon tip angiographic catheters after complaints that the tip would split.

Bearing these concerns in mind, Rhode and his colleagues at CDP designed this new catheter with helix-shaped interlocking tubes that will allow for more stability and improved steerability. They've even designed the technology to be compatible with robotic control, and continue to refine the device to meet key regulatory and biocompatibility requirements. The new catheter design is also assembled from micro injection moulded sections that enable the device to be built on an automated assembly line to help reduce the cost of manufacturing.

"We have only produced prototypes at present for our experiments, but the cost of manufacture will be comparative to any other catheter technology that is currently on the market," Rhode says. "The majority of the cost is always the tooling."

As for the the future of the device, Rhode says that the group are preparing the technology for clinical studies, as they look to gather enough data to proceed with human trials.

"The next steps are to prepare for a first-in-man study," he says. "For this, we are carrying out the required bench experiments and also moving towards a series of tests in the pre-clinical environment." 

Kristopher Sturgis is a contributor to Qmed.

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About the Author(s)

Kristopher Sturgis

Kristopher Sturgis is a freelance contributor to MD+DI.

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