Is there a difference in how this new catheter is applied compared to other systems?
Sommer: All cardiac catheters differ slightly in their features though this is not something that makes them unique. Apart from the time variation, the actual procedure is nearly the same.
Does it avoid or reduce the possible risks and complications of the procedure?
Sommer: There is no scientific proof of that yet. However, that is because cardiac ablation complications are actually very rare. The rate of bleeding at the site is around 0.8 percent, while the risk of stroke ranges around 0.4 percent. Together, they affect approximately one percent of treated patients.
To date, studies for the new catheter have included just a few hundred patients, who have shown no clear reduction in complications. Again, that is because catheter ablation is already a low-risk and safe procedure that requires a very large number of patient participants to detect a statistically significant change.
Of course, the hope is that there is a general reduction of complications if the lesions can be created in a shorter amount of time because the catheter is a foreign object and does not have to remain inserted in the heart for as long as previous methods require. But again, these are theoretical deductions that have not yet been proven.
What would be the incentive to use the new catheter system at this point in time?
Sommer: The notion of a more precise lesion formation and presumably longer lesion durability give the system an edge as this might lower the recurrence rate, which is currently around 30 percent. The other point is that the duration of the intervention can be kept as short as possible. At the moment, the actual ablation process takes between 25 and 30 minutes. This new technology could feasibly shorten procedure time to 10 minutes.