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Ultrasound systems for cardiac ablation

Ultrasound systems for cardiac ablation at Sunnybrook Research Institute

Tachyarrhythmias (in which the heart beats rapidly and irregularly) are commonly treated by ablating the arrhythmogenic foci and circuits via percutaneously placed catheters (those placed through the skin). It is an invasive treatment and has limited efficacy because it cannot accurately identify anatomic targets and create transmural, continuous lesions.

Our goal is to develop an ultrasound phased array with full three-dimensional beam-steering capability to be placed in the esophagus to treat tachyarrhythmias. This device could be guided and monitored by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to induce accurately targeted transmural myocardial lesions without the problems associated with the intracardiac catheter placement.

To accomplish this we plan to do as follows:

  • perform in vivo animal tests with our linear phased arrays to explore the sonication parameters and methods for inducing adequate tissue coagulation
  • perform a computer simulation study to explore the array design and sonication methods for trans-esophageal cardiac ablation
  • develop and test the phased-array applicators in ex vivo and in vivo animal tissues
  • develop MR thermometry methods that can monitor and guide cardiac muscle coagulation
  • develop a complete sonication system and test it in animal experiments.

We will also be developing MRI-compatible ultrasound catheters that can be used to ablate cardiac tissue from inside the heart while guiding, monitoring and controlling the ablation by MRI.