‘Potentially everything we’ve hoped for’: Pulsed field ablation used for 1st time in U.S.

Pulsed field ablation (PFA) technology has been used to treat atrial fibrillation for the first time in the U.S.

John Hummel, MD, of Ohio State’s Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital, was the electrophysiologist on the job and used Medtronic’s PulseSelect PFA System to treat his AFib patient. PFA leverages pulsed electric fields to interrupt signaling pathways and AFib triggers in the heart, allowing the heart to restore its regular rhythm. The strategy is novel in that, unlike most ablation procedures, it doesn’t require extreme cold or heat.

“Whenever you do an ablation, there’s the risk that it can cause damage to structures around the heart as heat or cooling spreads beyond the heart border,” Hummel said in a statement from OSU. “But this type of energy delivery is non-thermal, and heart muscle cells are uniquely sensitive to it, thus helping to avoid affecting other types of tissue around the heart. It’s also very rapid and will likely significantly cut down on surgery time.”

He said PFA might also eliminate the need for overnight hospital stays in ablation patients.

Ohio State is the only site in the U.S. for the pilot phase of a clinical trial the FDA greenlighted back in January. The trial will look at the efficacy of Medtronic’s PFA system in patients with recurrent and symptomatic atrial fibrillation and those who don’t respond to drug therapy; its current phase is also taking place in Australia, Canada and Europe.

“This new technology is potentially everything we’ve hoped for in catheter ablation,” Hummel said. “It’s easier to use, more efficient and will be better for patients because there’s less risk of damage to surrounding tissue and a shorter recovery time.”

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