Connectivity and Electrophysiology

Share this post:
Posted On:
August 01, 2019

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

Atrial fibrillation, also called Afib, has many known and unknown causes. With heart rhythm disorder rates expecting to double by 2035, the demand for Electrophysiology (EP) device equipment is expected to increase substantially. 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?

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. Electrophysiology is a safe procedure that can save money for the patient and hospital. 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.

A typical electrophysiology procedure includes the following steps:

  1. Electrodes will be placed on your 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 your veins and monitored on a screen as they are guided to your 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; remain 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, get lots of bed rest and limit your mobility.

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.

With EP Heart Mapping and Navigation devices expected to reach $1.4B by 2024 and with EP Ablation to reach $3.3B the future looks bright for this field changing technology.

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

Some of the cable features required by Electrophysiology include:

  • A highly flexible solution for surgeon’s effortless manipulation
  • Mechanical strength to withstand the twists and turns of surgery
  • A biocompatible surface finish for doctor and patient safety and comfort
  • Solutions that can be sterilized or appropriately decontaminated

Northwire has been partnering with contract manufacturers and medical device companies for decades.

Custom cable design and manufacture for the Healthcare industry include:

  • Solutions that are compatible with steam, H202, gamma, and ETO sterilization
  • Cable materials compliant to ISO 10993-5 and ISO 10993-10
  • An experienced design team in direct contact with customers
  • 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 heart 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 require the patient to hold their breathe for long periods of time, dunking their face in freezing ice water, or simply coughing in order to slow down the heart rate. However, VM doesn’t work for all types of arrhythmias.

Medications: Although effective, medications for irregular heart rhythms are only meant to be a short-term solution. Doctors will typically prescribe blood-thinning medications to help keep dangerous blood clots from forming around the heart.

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

Coronary Bypass Surgery & Pacemakers: Both being solutions legendary cartoon characters Krusty the Clown and Homer Simpson used to treat their heart arrhythmias, CPS and Pacemakers are just as outdated as their cartoon counterparts.  Pacemakers being an implanted device near the collarbone during a minor surgery 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. In season 1 of The Simpsons, everyone’s favorite clown Krusty is arrested for a crime that he didn’t commit. In order to prove his innocence, the main characters explain that the crime was committed near a microwave oven that would have disrupted his pacemaker resulting in serious injury. Sadly, this is more fact than fiction for many with pacemakers as they 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.

When compared to the alternatives, it is clear why Electrophysiology has experienced so much growth, which is projected to continue into the foreseeable future. With experienced designers on hand to guide your cable design and rapid prototyping, Northwire is an ideal partner in the development of cable and assembly solutions tailored to the EP market.

Northwire Biocompatic silicone alternative jacketed cable
A Perfect Partnership for Engineers