Sunday, February 7, 2010

Research Highlights: Catheter Ablation Procedure as a First Line Defense for Arrhythmia

Catheter Ablation Procedure as a First Line Defense for Arrhythmia

Reviewed by: Caroline Melhado

A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medicine Association found atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder, could be controlled by a procedure called catheter ablation more effectively than traditional antiarrhythmic drug therapy (ADT). Catheter ablation is a process that cauterizes muscles surrounding the pulmonary veins, in an effort to destroy the tissue causing the abnormal electrical pulses.

The trail was conducted at 19 hospitals and included 167 patients that had had at least 3 atrial fibrillation episodes during the last six months. 106 patients were randomly given the procedure, while 61 were given a new form of ADT. Researchers found that 66% of catheter ablation patients were free of episodes nine months later, while only 16% of the ADT patients were episode free.

The catheter ablation is an invasive procedure, and five patients out of the catheter ablation group suffered from major treatment-related negative effects (4.9% of the catheter ablation group). However five patients from the ADT group suffered from ADT-related adverse effects (8.8% of ADT group).

Traditional ADT has re-occurrences on average of 50%, so catheter ablation is likely to be seen as an alternative first line defense against many cases of atrial fibrillation. Biosense Webster, the company that produces the catheters used in the procedure, funded the study.

Reference: JAMA. 2010;303(4):333-340.

Caroline Melhado is the 2009 - 2010 Research Highlights Editor.
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