BOSTON – Cardiologists at the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have become the first in the world since federal approval to perform procedures with the aid of a new heart mapping system that pinpoints rhythm abnormalities.
The 3-D Rhythmia Mapping System is designed to improve the accuracy and speed with which heart rhythm abnormalities can be depicted on a computer screen, and to improve the success of ablation procedures performed by electrophysiologists – physicians who treat problems resulting from disorders of the heart’s electrical system. The procedures at BIDMC are the first since U.S. Food & Drug Administration gave the system its approval in 2013.
BIDMC electrophysiologists Mark E. Josephson, MD, and Elad Anter, MD, have been involved in the design and development of the system for the past five years. Dr. Anter performed pre-clinical research and testing that led to its FDA approval in 2013.
Since August, Josephson and Anter have performed several procedures using the Rhythmia Mapping System, including catheter ablations to correct atrial flutter, atrial fibrillation, supraventricular tachycardia and life-threatening ventricular tachycardia. All of these conditions involve irregular heartbeats.\
The first patient was a Boston-area woman who received an ablation procedure to correct an atrial flutter, a fast heart beat that is usually not lethal but, like other arrhythmias, can increase the risk of stroke.
Improving Speed and Accuracy
“The success of electrophysiology procedures is highly dependent on two things – operator skill and technology,” said Josephson, chief of cardiovascular medicine at BIDMC, who is internationally recognized as a pioneer of cardiac electrophysiology. “On the technology side, mapping systems contribute to the speed and accuracy with which ablations are performed.”
During catheter ablation, the physician inserts a catheter (wire) into the heart to deliver bursts of high-energy radio waves. These bursts produce scarring in the heart tissue that disrupts the abnormal electrical activity and restores a normal heart beat.
“We try to help arrhythmia patients first with medicines, but when that approach doesn’t work, catheter ablation is a non-surgical approach that can improve patients’ quality of life and even save lives,” said Anter. “Improved mapping means safer and more effective procedures for patients.”
Earlier in his career, Josephson was the first to develop heart- mapping techniques that are the basis of all cardiac catheter ablation procedures. Using these tools, he pioneered systematic programmed stimulation of the heart to treat ventricular tachycardia and he described the pathophysiology of lethal arrhythmias associated with heart attack. He worked with surgical colleagues to develop mapping-guided surgery to cure ventricular tachycardia, which is still the most effective treatment for that disorder
Mapping systems produce images that help the electrophysiologists performing catheter ablation procedures to identify where to deliver the radio waves. The Rhythmia Mapping system collects high-resolution data much faster than other systems. It consists of a catheter with 64 tiny electrodes mounted on its tip.
The physician inserts the catheter through an artery and into the heart, where it senses electrical circuits. Software processes this data and rapidly produces colorful, moving high-resolution images on a computer screen that is visible to the physician performing the procedure.
About the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
The Harvard-Thorndike Electrophysiology Institute and Arrhythmia Service – a component of the CardioVascular Institute and the BIDMC Division of Cardiovascular medicine – treats patients with the full range of conditions that cause abnormal heartbeats, from atrial fibrillation to ventricular tachycardia. Founded by Josephson, the Institute is the oldest, largest program of its kind in New England. The institute provides care for patients from around the world and is a center of leading-edge research, advanced medical education and clinical care. It offers the most advanced diagnosis and treatment modalities, including catheter-based ablation and cardioverter-defibrillator implantation.
The Cardiovascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center combines cardiology, cardiac surgery and vascular surgery in a structure designed to facilitate collaboration across disciplines. The CVI delivers outstanding outcomes, easy access, and better service, earning BIDMC recognition from U.S. News & World Report as one of the best 100 hospitals or a distinguished hospital in heart care and surgery since 2006. Community-based cardiologists and vascular surgeons at convenient offices throughout Eastern Massachusetts provide a wide range of services and, when advanced care is needed, refer patients to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. For more information, visit www.bidmc.harvard.edu/CVI.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and currently ranks third in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide.
BIDMC is in the community with Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth, Anna Jaques Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, Lawrence General Hospital, Signature Healthcare, Beth Israel Deaconess HealthCare, Community Care Alliance, and Atrius Health. BIDMC is also clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and Hebrew Senior Life and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit www.bidmc.org.
BIDMC Contact: Jerry Berger