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First of its kind procedure to manage stroke risk on the way

“Using our technology, the physician would see clinical-quality, soft-tissue images in real time.”



A team at an American University are working with a combination of elements in order to perform the first-ever procedure to manage stroke risk for those with atrial fibrillation (AFib).

The team have been awarded a $3.7 million grant from the Nation Institutes of Health, in order to perform what they believe would be a ‘medical first’.

The team plan to perform robotic heart catheterisation whilst the patient is inside a MRI scanner.

During the procedure, a physician controlling a micro-robotic device would perform the procedure wearing a mixed-reality headstand the goal would be to achieve unparalleled surgical precision.

The procedure used would be Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion (LAAO), which is used for managing stroke risk in AFib patients.

In this procedure, a catheter, or flexible tube is inserted through a vein or artery in the groin and then thread up to the heart to deliver an implant that reduces blood clots in the heart that leads to strokes in AFib patients.

With current technology, the doctor has to view the heart tissue and manually position the implant with the help of an X-Ray of the heart, which only provides a picture of poor quality of the organ.

Lead researcher M. Cenk Cavusoglu says: “Using our technology, the physician would see clinical-quality, soft-tissue images in real time.

“He or she would be able to pinpoint the exact location, and the micro-robot would perform the procedure. This would make this procedure safer, easier, far more effective, and even less expensive as a treatment for atrial fibrillation (AFib).”

Helping Atrial Fibrillation patients

The team behind the use of AR-guided robotic surgery for this procedure, hope by demonstrating the benefits of this method, that it will increase its availability to AFib patients.

Cavusoglu admits that both the robotic catheter operating inside an MRI, and the high-speed MRI imaging itself, will provide significant challenges.

Building on the past

In 2020, Cavusoglu and his team received a NIH grant in order to develop a system for performing MRI guided robotic atrial fibrillation ablation, based on the same technology.

Many cases of AFib are controlled by medications such as blood thinners, however, those who cannot tolerate or do not respond to drugs will often undergo the ablation procedure.

The team gave been working on this approach since 2013, and they hope to validate the technology in pre-clinic trials within the next few years.