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London Bridge Hospital- the first private hospital in the UK to offer a Robotic Catheter System

02 April 2009

London Bridge Hospital is the first private hospital in the UK to offer the innovative first generation Sensei™ Robotic Catheter System (also known as the Hansen Robot) within the Cardiology Department

This system is designed to give our Surgeons accurate and stable control of catheter movement during complex cardiac procedures performed to diagnose patients suffering from abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias.

Arrhythmias, or electrical problems of the heart, affect millions of people each year.   These are characterized as occurring either in the atria (upper chambers of the heart), or in the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart). 

Common forms of arrhythmia include:

  • Atrial fibrillation, or AF, is a complex arrhythmia in which the atria or upper chambers of the heart beat rapidly and irregularly.  As a result, the ventricles or lower chambers never adequately fill with blood, and blood pools in the atria increasing the risk of stroke.
  • Atrial flutter is a rapid, but organized and predictable pattern of beating of the atria.  As with AF, the ventricles cannot respond to all of the atrial beats, so blood pools in the atria, increasing the risk of stroke.
  • Atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT) occurs when the abnormal signal begins in the atria, but instead of transferring to the ventricle through the atrioventricular (AV) node, the electrical signal is returned to the atria.  This sequence can happen over and over again.
  • Wolff-Parksinson-White is an arrhythmia caused by an abnormal bridge of tissue that connects the atria and ventricles of the heart.  This extra pathway allows electrical signals to go back and forth between the upper and lower chambers of the heart without passing through the AV node, which controls the heart rate.  As a result, very fast heart rates and other life threatening arrhythmias can develop.
  • Ventricular tachycardia is an arrhythmia which arises from the lower chambers of the heart.  It is characterized by heart rates over 100 beats per minute, but heart rates often approach 200 beats per minute.  At this rate, very little blood is pumped out of the heart to the brain and other organs.   

Of all the arrhythmias, AF is the most common.  AF is a growing problem worldwide, affecting over 4.5 million people in Europe alone.  One of the results of AF is inadequate blood flow to the body, concomitant with an increased potential for stroke, as the blood left in the atria pools and forms clots that can dislodge and travel to the brain.

According to the American College of Cardiology (ACC) approximately 75,000 strokes occur each year as a result of AF and these numbers continue to escalate as the population grows older.

Minimally-invasive treatment of arrhythmias:

  • One method of treating arrhythmias is to destroy the cells that are causing the heart to beat irregularly using a catheter placed in specific locations inside the heart.  This is called catheter ablation. Radiofrequency energy is the most common energy source used to eliminate the abnormal heart beats.
  • As a precursor to treating the arrhythmia, the physician creates an electrical road map of the inside of the heart to help guide the placement of the ablation catheter.  This road map is created by placing a catheter that records electrical signals from various locations in the heart.  This catheter is called a mapping catheter.
  • The most important element in the mapping and ablation phase is to place the catheters in the correct location of the heart so that an accurate map is created and only the abnormal tissue is destroyed.

The new Sensei system from Hansen Medical™ is designed to facilitate minimally invasive catheter-based procedures in the heart by providing our physicians with more control over catheter placement during these procedures. The overall aim of our new Sensei system is to help our consultants to create more accurate maps and therefore improve treatment of our patients.