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Medicine: All-in-One Catheter “Maps and Zaps”

Science is amazing, it’s always interesting to see the latest advances in the medical field that can benefit our way of life. One such innovation is a special all-in-one catheter used to treat arrhythmia.

Normally, a procedure to treat an irregular heartbeat involves two catheters. One is insert to map the heart tissue, determining the cells that are causing the arrythmia. A second, thinner tube is then inserted and directed toward the aberrant cells, killing them through ablation.

The new single catheter, though, does both jobs. It makes use of stretchable electronics and it fills up, not unlike a balloon, until it reaches the inner walls of the blood vessels. When it makes contact, its sensors read a series of data to determine the irregularly-beating cells. The electrodes next to those sites then blast the cells and ablate them.

“It’s all in one, so it maps and zaps,” said project leader John A. Rogers. The fewer steps involved, the better. They’ve still got some challenges ahead, but the “stretchable” combo-catheter was demonstrated successfully on live animal models.

[GizMag via Nature]

About Michael Kwan

A freelance writer and tech geek from Vancouver. Find me at michaelkwan.com and follow me on Twitter @michaelkwan.

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