Atrial Fibrillation

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Focused Ultrasound Therapy

Focused ultrasound is a noninvasive, therapeutic technology with the potential to improve the quality of life and decrease the cost of care for patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasound energy precisely and accurately on targets deep in the body without damaging surrounding normal tissue. 

How it Works
The mechanism of action is to use focused ultrasound to cause thermal destruction of aberrant myocardial conducting tissue, which enables AF to be treated. This thermal destruction can be done percutaneously or at the time of open heart surgery. Additional, early research is looking at using a mechanical (non-thermal) use of focused ultrasound to destroy tissue and treat AF.

The primary options for treatment of AF include medication and surgical procedures involving a catheter placed in the groin that proceeds intravascularly to ablate areas of the heart. For certain patients, focused ultrasound could provide a noninvasive alternative to surgery with less risk of complications and lower cost. Focused ultrasound can reach the desired target without damaging surrounding tissue, and it can be repeated, if necessary.

Clinical Trials

There were several clinical trials that have been completed or were suspended for concerns about serious adverse events. At the present time, there are no clinical trials recruiting patients. Further research continues.

See a full list of AF clinical trials >

See a list of laboratory research sites >

Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement

Focused ultrasound treatment for AF is not yet approved by regulatory bodies or covered by medical insurance companies.

Notable Papers

Wintrich J, Pavlicek V, Millenaar D, Ukena C. Mapping of an atrial tachycardia after Epicor high-intensity focused ultrasound ablation: A case report. J Electrocardiol. 2021 May 4;67:19-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jelectrocard.2021.04.019.

Sandoval Z, Castro M, Alirezaie J, Bessière F, Lafon C, Dillenseger JL. Transesophageal 2D ultrasound to 3D computed tomography registration for the guidance of a cardiac arrhythmia therapy. Phys Med Biol. 2018 Jul 27;63(15):155007. doi: 10.1088/1361-6560/aad29a.

Garg L, Garg J, Gupta N, Shah N, Krishnamoorthy P, Palaniswamy C, Bozorgnia B, Natale A. Gastrointestinal complications associated with catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation. Int J Cardiol. 2016 Dec 1;224:424-430. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2016.09.069.

Reyes G, Ruyra X, Valderrama F, Jimenez A, Duran D, Perez E, Daroca T, Moya J, Ramirez U, Aldamiz G. High intensity focused ultrasound ablation for atrial fibrillation: results from the National Spanish Registry. Minerva Cardioangiol. 2016 Oct;64(5):501-6.

She WH, Cheung TT, Jenkins CR, Irwin MG. Clinical applications of high-intensity focused ultrasound. Hong Kong Med J. 2016 Aug;22(4):382-92. doi: 10.12809/hkmj154755.

Garcia R, Sacher F, Oses P, Derval N, Barandon L, Denis A, Hocini M, Roques X, Haïssaguerre M, Labrousse L, Jaïs P. Electrophysiological study 6 months after Epicor™ high-intensity focused ultrasound atrial fibrillation ablation. J Interv Card Electrophysiol. 2014 Dec;41(3):245-51. doi: 10.1007/s10840-014-9949-0.

Click here for additional references from PubMed.

Clinical Trials