Beaumont first to test new tool to treat atrial fibrillation

1/11/2007
 

Doctors at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak recently treated the first heart patient in the United States participating in a research study with a new technology called High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. The 65-year-old woman from White Lake, Mich. is part of a national study looking at HIFU as a potential treatment option for the debilitating heart rhythm abnormality known as atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation is an uncontrollable, rapid, heartbeat that can result in a decline of quality of life and lead to life-threatening complications. Nearly 8 million people in the world have atrial fibrillation.

"Depending on the research outcomes, ultrasound ablation may offer us another powerful tool for treating patients with AF," says David Haines, M.D., acting director of Cardiology at Beaumont and the hospital's lead electrophysiologist (heart rhythm specialist) for this research project.

HIFU is the process of focusing a high concentration of ultrasound energy into a specific area of heart tissue through the use of an ablation catheter. The use of this catheter can, in just 40-90 seconds, focus enough energy to destroy damaged tissue that's causing the electrical malfunction without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue.

The dual-balloon designed, high-intensity focused ultrasound ablation system being tested in the "focusAF" trial at centers specializing in treatment of atrial fibrillation is a product of ProRhythm Inc. of Ronkonkoma, N.Y. The study is set up to compare the safety and effectiveness of the new device against FDA-approved anti-arrhythmic medications that can control atrial fibrillation in some patients.

ProRhythm Inc. is a company pioneering the application of High Intensity Focused Ultrasound to advance the minimally invasive treatment of complex medical conditions like atrial fibrillation.

HIFU is the process of focusing a high concentration of ultrasound energy into a specific area of heart tissue through the use of an ablation catheter.

Beaumont is Michigan's, and one of the nation's, most experienced providers of heart care, ranking tops in Michigan and 12th overall on the 2006 U.S. News and World Report list of the "Top 50" hospitals for Heart and Heart Surgery. Beaumont offers comprehensive, state-of-the-art heart care at its Royal Oak and Troy hospitals and is dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart problems.