New device reduces risk of esophagus injury during ablations

An electrophysiologist at Columbus-based Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center helped invent a new device that makes atrial fibrillation treatment safer.

To treat Afib, physicians use cardiac ablation to restore the heart's rhythm; however, during the procedure the catheter tip is only a few millimeters from the esophagus, according to a May 22 hospital news release. The energy can cause an atrioesophageal fistula, a rare but often fatal hole between the esophagus and heart. 

To reduce the risk, Emile Daoud, MD, section chief of the cardiac electrophysiology program at the hospital, helped develope a device that physically moves the esophagus away from the catheter tip during the procedure.

"It has been frustrating to not have an effective method to protect the esophagus while delivering the ablation energy at the desired location," Dr. Daoud said. "By using suction force, we're able to pull in the esophagus and then move the entire segment to the side by only about an inch. This creates a safe pathway to deliver the treatment." 

In a clinical trial of 120 patients, the ESOlution device reduced esophageal injuries from about 33 percent down to less than 5 percent, according to the report. If the FDA approves it, the device would be the first specifically developed and tested to prevent esophageal injury from ablation.

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