Connectivity and Electrophysiology

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Posted On:
August 01, 2019

Did you know 2% of people under 65 and 9% of people over 65 struggle with atrial fibrillation? Did you know many people with atrial fibrillation are unaware of the condition until a physical examination discovers it?

Atrial fibrillation, also called Afib, has many causes. With heart rhythm disorder rates expecting to double by 2035, the demand for Electrophysiology (EP) device equipment is increasing. As a result, major medical device manufacturers and emerging, specialized electrophysiology device companies are developing safe and efficient ways to treat Afib.

What is Electrophysiology (EP)?

In essence, electrophysiology tests the electrical activity of cells and tissues and the electrical pathways in the heart for the presence of an abnormal heartbeat or arrythmia. Through catheters and custom wire electrodes, doctors measure electrical activity through blood vessels that enter the heart to assess the heart’s electrical system more accurately than traditional surgery.

Electrophysiology is a safer and more accurate procedure than traditional surgery and can save money for the patient and hospital.

A typical electrophysiology procedure includes the following steps:

  1. Electrodes will be placed on the patient's chest and back to connect to an array of monitors.
  2. Local anesthetic will be administered to areas where catheters will be inserted – either the neck or groin.
  3. Several long, thin, flexible wire catheters are inserted into the patient's veins and monitored on a screen as they are guided to the heart.
  4. A mapping catheter is used to determine where the arrythmia is taking place; the catheter tips apply extreme heat or cold to ablate these spots.
  5. Once the procedure is completed, the catheters are removed; the patient remains still four to six hours to let the catheter sites seal.
  6. Depending on the procedure site, the wire catheters could be reprocessed so they must have a biocompatible surface finish that can be sterilized or appropriately decontaminated.
  7. For the next week, the patient limits their mobility and gets lots of bed rest.

With an aging population and a movement toward less invasive procedures, the global EP equipment market is expected to reach $8.27 billion by 2022, while growing at a CAGR of 13.4%. This rapid growth rate has already rocketed ablation catheters to the #1 treatment device for atrial fibrillation, ahead of ICDs, pacemakers, medications, and coronary bypass surgery.

The future looks bright for EP technology. By 2024, EP Mapping and Navigation devices are expected to reach $1.4B and EP Ablation to reach $3.3B.

Whether a medical device manufacturer is focusing on mapping systems, mapping catheters, ablation catheters or the full suite of electrophysiology devices, each will need reliable power and data transmission capability.

Electrophysiology cable features include:

  • Flexibility to reduce fatigue: A highly flexible solution for a surgeon’s effortless manipulation
  • Cable strength: Mechanical strength to withstand the twists and turns of surgery
  • USP VI medical grade biocompatible material: A biocompatible surface finish for doctor and patient safety and comfort
  • Cables able to be sterilized: Solutions compatible with steam, H202, gamma, and ETO sterilization

Northwire has been partnering with contract manufacturers and medical device companies for decades to design and manufacture interconnect solutions for healthcare end-applications.

Custom cable design and manufacture for the Healthcare industry includes:

  • Solutions compatible with steam, H202, gamma, and ETO sterilization
  • Material compliance to ISO 10993-5 and ISO 10993-10
  • Experienced design engineers to help clients navigate complex regulatory requirements for reliable interconnectivity solutions
  • BioCompatible materials including a USP Class VI silicone alternative with superior cut, crush, and abrasion resistance

Why so much attention around Electrophysiology?

Before Electrophysiological testing, doctors relied on Holter monitors or Event monitors to treat patients with irregular heartbeats. A patient wore a monitor to record their heartbeat throughout the day. The patient's heartbeat was also monitored through stress tests, such as exercising on a treadmill or bicycle, to record different arrhythmias. Results were compared with data obtained from former heart arrhythmia patients, and doctors would make educated guesses about irregular heartbeat causes.

Today, Electrophysiology takes away this guesswork. Electrophysiology tests and mapping offer quick and accurate real time information to treat patients effectively with arrythmia.

Current alternatives for Electrophysiology

Vagal Maneuvers: The at-home remedy for fast heartbeats hasn’t been popular since the early 1900’s. VM requires the patient to hold their breathe, place their face in ice water, and coughing to slow down heart rate. VM doesn’t work for all arrhythmia types.

Medications: Although effective, medications are a short-term solution for irregular heart rhythm. Doctors typically prescribe a blood-thinning medication to prevent blood clots from forming around the heart.

Cardioversion: This procedure is a form of shock therapy and only used in unique arrhythmia cases. It requires multiple attempts which can be a burden to the consumer.

Coronary Bypass Surgery (CPS) and Pacemakers: Pacemakers are an implanted device near the collarbone during a minor surgery and helps control abnormal heart rhythms by detecting abnormal heartbeats. If this is detected the device emits an electrical impulse that stimulates the heart to beat at a normal rate.

Those with pacemakers are forced to avoid prolonged contact with electrical devices with strong magnetic fields such as cellphones, household appliances, high-tension wires, metal detectors, industrial welders, and electrical generators.

Comparing Electrophysiology with these alternatives, it is clear why EP has experienced dramatic growth.

Northwire is an ideal partner in the development of cable and interconnect solutions tailored to the EP market.

Northwire Biocompatic silicone alternative jacketed cable
Partner with Northwire custom medical cable solutions for your next EP project.