A number of patients who have an irregular heartbeat undergo a treatment that involves doctors scaring small parts of the heart in an attempt to get it beating properly again. The trouble is, the current equipment used to find the best spots to scar is limited. Doctors use an EKG to estimate where the irregular currents are coming from, but up to 40 percent of the time it is wrong.
To get a more accurate view doctors have to insert a catheter into the heart via a blood vessel, but that can lead to more complications, including an increase of the chances of having a stroke.
Two former biomedical Engineering students from Case Western Reserve University, Ping Jia and Charu Ramanathan and their professor, Yoram Rudy, have developed a vest that is covered with electrodes which, when worn whilst undergoing a CAT scan, can show doctors exactly the right spot to scar. It is said to be up to 90 percent accurate even in its early stages. The electrodes send signals to a computer, which then uses mathematics to work out the precise spot the doctors need to scar to get the heart beating in a regular pattern again.
Jia and Ramanathan have created their own company in Cleveland, CardioInsight, where the ECVUE vest is made. It is currently undergoing testing at four different hospitals.
The FDA are expected to approve the vest sometime next year, which will enable the company to sell it within the US. A number of countries in Europe are already using the ECVUE, including England, Germany and France. Cleveland.com reports “Rudy, now director of the Cardiac Bioelectricity and Arrhythmia Center at Washington University in St. Louis, is using the technology to study and develop new ways to treat many other heart conditions.”