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The Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge performs another UK first on heart patient



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A team at Royal Papworth Hospital has performed the UK’s first atrial fibrillation ablation using a new, innovative type of technology designed to improve safety and efficiency.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disturbance, affecting around 1.4 million people in the UK. It causes debilitating and life- limiting symptoms such as palpitations, breathlessness and fatigue.

The ablation team at Royal Papworth Hospital (57467916)
The ablation team at Royal Papworth Hospital (57467916)

Until now, catheter ablations to treat AF have mostly used thermal energy, by either burning or freezing problematic heart tissue. However, this carries a risk of damaging neighbouring tissue such as the oesphagus or the phrenic nerve, which controls the diaphragm.

A new technology by Boston Scientific – called FARAPULSE PFA – uses a non-thermal electric field energy source that targets heart tissue while avoiding damage to these other structures.

The left atrium before, left, and after, right, ablation. Non-electrically active tissue - in grey - will prevent atrial fibrillation. Image: Royal Papworth Hospital
The left atrium before, left, and after, right, ablation. Non-electrically active tissue - in grey - will prevent atrial fibrillation. Image: Royal Papworth Hospital

The team which performed the UK’s first pulsed field ablation on Monday, June 13 was led by consultant cardiologists Dr Claire Martin, Dr Patrick Heck and Dr David Begley, supported by nurses, cardiac physiologists and radiographers.

Dr Martin said: “This technology marks a step-change in electrophysiology and may well be the future of treating atrial fibrillation with catheter ablations.

The Royal Papworth Hospital ablation team
The Royal Papworth Hospital ablation team

“I am very proud of the team for making Royal Papworth Hospital the first centre in the UK to offer this technology to benefit our AF patients across the East of England. Thank you to everyone involved for their hard work in making this happen.”

Early studies from Europe have shown excellent outcomes and low complication rates using this new system.

Royal Papworth Hospital:Pulsed field ablation team
Royal Papworth Hospital:Pulsed field ablation team

The Royal Papworth, which has a string of UK and world firsts to its name, will also be the lead centre in the UK for the upcoming Advantage-AF trial which will collect further data on the effectiveness of this technique.



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