New treatment for patients with life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia

Since April 2019, patients at the UHZ Department of Radiation Oncology have had the option of treatment with an MR Linac machine. “This linear accelerator enables us to track every target in a patient’s body before and during irradiation by MR imaging, and control and adjust the irradiation in real time,” explains Dr. Tanadini-Lang, Head Medical Physicist at the Department of Radiation Oncology. The irradiation can thus be carried out more precisely.

Innovative treatment for further indications

“This new technology was originally developed for treating cancer,” explains Professor Matthias Guckenberger, Director of the Department of Radiation Oncology. “In a collaborative project between the Department of Cardiology, the Institute for Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, and the Department of Radiation Oncology, the MR Linac technology has now been used at UHZ for the first time for radio ablation to treat a patient with recurring, life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia.” In this procedure, the area of the heart muscle responsible for the arrhythmia is targeted with radiation.

All other options had been exhausted

The patient, with a severe heart condition, had already undergone various intensive but unsuccessful treatments before. “Despite intensive drug therapy and repeated minimally invasive and surgical catheter ablations, the arrhythmia could not be prevented. Due to the complexity of the arrhythmia and the preliminary interventions, further invasive procedures were not advisable. We needed a new, innovative approach for this patient,” explains PD Dr. Ardan Saguner, attending physician at the Department of Cardiology. The MR Linac technology was required for radio ablation to be safely performed on this patient with the necessary precision. This radio ablation stopped the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia, and the patient has since been discharged with no signs of an irregular heartbeat.

“This first MRI-controlled radio ablation of cardia arrhythmia shows how UHZ successfully combines the latest interdisciplinary and interprofessional technology with innovative therapeutic approaches,” says Professor Nicolaus Andratschke, head of the MR Linac and radio ablation of cardiac arrhythmia project at the Department of Radiation Oncology.

“This treatment is still an experimental procedure that needs to be further investigated in larger clinical trials to determine its long-term efficacy,” add Professor Jan Steffel, Deputy Director of the department and Professor Frank Ruschitzka, Director of the Department of Cardiology. The clinical research group at UHZ is pursuing collaborations at national and international levels for this purpose, in order to thoroughly examine the value of radio ablation for this indication.

contact for scientific information:
Department of Radiation Oncology
Prof. Nicolaus Andratschke, Deputy Director of Department
Tel. +41 (0)44 255 8620 (media enquiries);

Department of Cardiology
PD Dr. Ardan Saguner, attending physician with a focus on catheter-based ablation of
cardiac arrhythmia
Tel. +41 (0)44 255 8620 (media enquiries);

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