The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough has become the first in the UK to use a state-of-the-art ultrasound imaging system for patients with abnormal heart rhythms.
Cardiologists at James Cook are the first to combine Cartosound ultrasound imaging with the more widely used CARTO Mapping System to enable them to see detailed images of the heart when treating patients for conditions such as atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation is a common heart rhythm problem affecting more than 1 million people across the UK. In some patients it can be treated using an ablation procedure where thin wires are inserted into a patient’s vein, usually via the groin, and moved to the appropriate position in the heart so that radiofrequency energy can be used to treat the affected area.
This new ultrasound imaging technology enables cardiologists to see exactly where the catheter is in the heart in real time via a screen in the catheter laboratory, providing more accurate information to help guide the cardiologist to target the correct part of the heart to be ablated.
“In simple terms this new system works in a similar way to a GPS unit in a car,” said cardiologist Simon James.
“It uses ultrasound so we can actually see exactly where the catheter is instead of having to use educated guess work. It’s like someone switching the lights on.
“It is very exciting to be the first in the UK to take advantage of this new technology. We have seen it presented at meetings in America and we have observed doctors doing cases with it in Italy. It makes the procedure quicker and safer for the patient.”