New software developed by clinicians and engineers at King’s College London could significantly improve the surgical implantation of pacemakers into patients with heart failure.
The technology enables doctors to process precise information from cardiac magnetic resonance images (MRI) and combine these with live X-rays during the procedure.
Specialists at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital are helping pioneer the innovative technique, along with experts from Siemens Healthcare.
Pacemakers, which are small devices that can be implanted into the chest, deliver electrical pulses to the patient’s heart to keep it beating regularly.
However, it's important to ensure that the leads attached to the pacemaker are in the right position, as research has shown that this can have a significant impact on clinical outcomes.
Surgeons can see the information from both the MRI and X-rays as they insert the pacemaker, as well as having a 3D model of the patient's heart. This allows them to put the device in the best possible position and improves its effectiveness.
Cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) pacemakers resynchronise the heart’s two ventricles, improving the overall efficiency of the heart and improving a patient's quality of life.
Kawal Rhode, professor of biomedical engineering at King's College London, said heart disease is a common illness and can have a considerable effect on the quality of life for patients.
“Our collaborative effort has meant that the development and testing of this new approach to pacemaker implantation has occurred within only two years of starting the project. The widespread use through commercialisation and the significant benefits for patients are now within reach," Professor Rhode explained.
The specialist heart team have managed to use the new technology to successfully implant CRT pacemakers into 12 patients.
Professor Aldo Rinaldi, consultant cardiologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and project lead, said the highly sophisticated technology gives "a much clearer image" of the heart and allows greater precision.
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