CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Cardiologists may soon be able to place sensitive electronics inside their patients' hearts with minimal invasiveness, enabling more sophisticated and efficient diagnosis and treatment of arrhythmias.
A team of materials scientists, mechanical and electrical engineers, and physicians has successfully integrated stretchable electronics technology with standard endocardial balloon catheters. Led by John A. Rogers, the Lee J. Flory-Founder Chair in Engineering at Illinois, the team published its work in the March 6 online edition of Nature Materials.
The team previously demonstrated a sensor-laden sheet that could laminate to the surface of the heart in 2010. Now they have expanded their technology to endocardial balloon catheters, one of the most common, least-invasive devices for cardiac procedures.
Catheters are long, flexible tubes that can be threaded through a vein or artery to reach the inside of the heart. Catheters with balloons at the end are commonly used for angioplasty, stent placement and other procedures as passive mechanical instruments. When in place, the balloon inflates and gently presses against the surrounding tissue to open blood vessels or valves.
Invasive cardiologists specializing in heart rhythm disorders use catheters with electrodes at the end for detecting and mapping arrhythmias and for ablation, or selectively killing small patches of cells that beat off-rhythm. Current invasive arrhythmia procedures involve two separate, rigid catheter devices: one that maps the heart point-by-point as a cardiologist maneuvers the tube in search of irregularities, and one with an electrode at the end that ablates spots identified as aberrant, one at a time.
The balloon device Rogers' team developed can perform both functions over large areas of the heart simultaneously, using integrated arrays of multifunctional sensors and ablation electrodes.
"It's all in one, so it maps and za
|Contact: Liz Ahlberg|
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign