Kansas University Hospital announced today that it was the first hospital in the United States to use a new technology that makes many heart procedures safer by significantly reducing radiation exposure.
The technology will benefit more than 800 patients each year who need treatment for heart rhythm problems such as atrial fibrillation.
“I think this technology allows us to be more precise in performing our procedures and that’s going to translate ultimately to better results for patients,” said Dr. Loren Berenbom, director of the Richard and Annette Bloch Heart Rhythm Center at KU Hospital.
Berenbom said the current standard of practice for viewing a catheter or other device in the heart is to take a rapid series of X-ray images through the course of the procedure. This process, called fluoroscopy, can be used from one hour to four hours to make sure the catheter gets to the correct place.
The new MediGuide technology works like a global positioning system that drivers use to determine the location of their vehicle on a map. It uses electromagnetic signals to track tiny sensors embedded in the devices they are using, so they are able to map their route using the sensors and a few X-rays instead of numerous X-rays, and it’s also done on a three-dimensional image.
KU Hospital received the new technology last week and has already used it on six patients. In the first procedure, radiation exposure went from what would have been 45 minutes to less than 2 minutes.
Berenbom said the radiation exposure increases the long-term risk of developing cancer. That cancer is something that would occur decades later, he said, not hours or days later.
“If you are 85, you probably don’t have to worry too much about what’s going to happen to you when you are 120. If you are 15 years old, then that X-ray exposure is more significant,” he said.
In recent years, more data has been reaching doctors and the public about the dangers of exposure to radiation for diagnostic imaging. A report from The Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies health care organizations, said the total exposure to ionizing radiation for patients has more than doubled in the past 20 years.
Berenbom said the new technology also will reduce the risk of radiation exposure to the doctors and staff.
The MediGuide technology, which was developed by St. Paul, Minn.-based St. Jude Medical Inc., first became available about a year ago in Europe, and has now been approved for certain usage by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Berenbom said the hospital soon will be using the technology for other procedures such as cardiac resynchronization therapy, a form of therapy for congestive heart failure.
“It’s great technology and it’s exciting to have better ways to help our patients,” he said.
KU Hospital, a 652-bed facility that serves about 28,000 inpatients annually, did not disclose how much the technology cost, but it said in a press release that it was made possible with the help of philanthropy. The technology will reside in the newly named Raizada Family Electrophysiology Lab inside the heart center.