JAN 24, 2017 8:31 PM PST

Carbon Ion Treatments Less Invasive Than Catheters

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

A new technology based on a method originally developed in 1997 to treat cancer could soon eliminate the need for invasive catheter procedures to correct complex cases of cardiac arrhythmia.

The treatment of cardiac arrhythmia with ions is studied at GSI. Therefore certain areas of the cardiac tissue are irradiated. In the area of the Bragg peak (black) ions deposit their energy and the tissue becomes deserted. Credit: Blausen.com staff. CC BY 3.0, remix by GSI

Led by scientists from the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research, the new study is the first to test the feasibility of high-energy carbon ion therapy to treat two kinds of cardiac arrhythmia: atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia.

These two conditions are characterized by a deviation from the regular heartbeat as directed by the sinoatrial node, the heart’s pacemaker. Conventional approaches to treating these arrhythmias include drugs or a procedure called catheter ablation, where surgeons make “small scars” in affected heart tissue to return the heart back to a healthy rhythm. They do so with catheters that are sent through blood vessels to certain types of heart tissue, primarily the tissues that are preventing the transmission of the sinoatrial node’s transmission.

The new experimental method, using carbon ions, achieves the same function but without a catheter, making it less-invasive and potentially even more effective. “For the first time, [the new method] allows us to perform this treatment with pinpoint accuracy but without any catheters at all," said study author Dr. H. Immo Lehmann.

Lehmann and the other researchers designed an animal study to test the irradiation of tissues with carbon ions. Based on their results, at its best the procedure will only take a few minutes; cardiac ablation can take several hours.

"The study showed that the method can be successfully used to change cardiac tissue in such a way as to permanently interrupt the propagation of disruptive impulses,” said Dr. Christian Graeff. “Further detailed studies are needed, however, before the method can start to benefit patients.”

The new therapy offers the unique ability of ions that can reach tissues at any desired depth, depths at which catheters can’t reach. For example, sometimes catheters can’t reach the thick wall of the left ventricle to destroy tissue, which is a problem because many cases of ventricular tachycardia require tissue to be destroyed there.

"It is exciting that the carbon beam could work with surgical precision in particularly sensitive areas of the body," said Paolo Giubellino.

The 1997 development of the technology that was originally used to treat cancer is now “well-established and has been used in thousands of patients worldwide.” Hopefully this soon can be said for cardiac arrhythmia, which can cause irreparable damage, stroke, and heart failure.

The current study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.



Sources: Helmholtz Association, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 20, 2019
Cardiology
NOV 20, 2019
Americans Continue to Gain Weight Despite Increased Weight loss Efforts
Body mass index (BMI) is an important health measure. BMI is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( ...
FEB 20, 2020
Cardiology
FEB 20, 2020
Most Commonly Birth Defects Affect The Heart
Birth defects are not uncommon. For every 33 babies born in the United States each year, one is born with a defect. That ...
MAR 06, 2020
Cardiology
MAR 06, 2020
Why Is Good Nutrition Advise So Hard to Come By
Nutrition advice seems to come from everywhere. Exposure to this advice, one is likely to find endless examples of confl ...
APR 05, 2020
Cardiology
APR 05, 2020
Fatter Thighs May Help Stave off Heart Disease
New research has found that a larger thigh circumferences, or ‘fatter thighs’ may be linked to lower blood p ...
MAY 06, 2020
Cardiology
MAY 06, 2020
Can Alcohol Consumption Increase Your Risk of Peripheral Arterial Disease?
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is a chronic disease where plaque builds up in the arteries in the legs. This buildup ...
MAY 15, 2020
Cardiology
MAY 15, 2020
Cardiovascular Disease Mortality is Greater in Rural Areas
A wide variation in cardiovascular disease mortality rates has been noted among counties in the United States. Residents ...
Loading Comments...