Scientists ID mathematical method to measure catheter ablation effectiveness

A mathematical method to measure electrical communications within the heart has been shown to be useful in predicting the effectiveness of catheter ablation.

The research, conducted by scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, has the potential to let physicians and patients know immediately if catheter ablation worked in treating atrial fibrillation (AFib). The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The success rate for AFib patients 12 months after receiving the procedure is about 60 to 80 percent—and that’s the best case scenario. For patients with chronic and persistent irregular heartbeats, success rates are much lower.

"This means that 20 to 40 percent of patients have to undergo a second, or even third, long procedure; rates no one is happy about," said Hiroshi Ashikaga, the lead author on the study and an assistant professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins, in a statement.

Ashikaga’s study, which included 22 patients, used a basket-shaped catheter with 64 electrode sensors to measure a heart’s electrical communication before and after the procedure. They then tested patients again after six months. Patients’ average age was about 64 years old, and they were all treated at Johns Hopkins. About 78 percent of them were male, and all had chronic AFib.

"Our study sought to create an accurate predictor and measure of success and we showed that if the procedure improved electrical communication in the heart immediately following catheter ablation, then it can be a read-out for longer term success,” Ashikaga said.