How does non-invasive ablation work?
In arrhythmia, the normal electrical activity of the heart goes haywire – disrupting the regular heart rate and causing troublesome symptoms, such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness, chest pain, fatigue, and even loss of consciousness. Arrhythmia can occur as a result of various factors, such as a heart attack or other heart function disorders.
Non-invasive ablation, a relatively new type of treatment, uses stereotactic radiotherapy to focus powerful x-ray beams on the area where the electrical circuits responsible for the arrhythmia are located. Hundreds of beams target the area precisely to destroy the electrical circuits without affecting any surrounding tissues. Non-invasive ECG and imaging techniques enable this highly accurate mapping of the target.
What should the patient expect?
On the day before the procedure, Sheba’s doctors will administer radiotherapy and perform CT and MRI imaging tests to produce accurate images of the heart. After these images are used to precisely define the target, the patient will lie down on a robotic, rotating table and be exposed to high-energy radiation beams that blast the predefined area. The beams are computer-guided and attack the target in different directions. The whole treatment takes only a few minutes. Patients typically remain hospitalized for a few days and later return to Sheba’s Heart Institute for follow-up with a cardiac specialist.
What are the possible side effects?
Immediately after the procedure, the patient feels normal – no pain or side effects are generally experienced. Because no incisions are made in the body, there is no risk of bleeding or infection. In addition, the risk of radiation damage to healthy tissue near the target is minimal. Short-term edema (water retention) or inflammation may occur in the surrounding cells, but it quickly subsides.
Who is a candidate?
Conventional arrhythmia treatments, such as drugs and invasive ablation (electrical catheterization), are generally used in order to regulate cardiac activity. Research has shown that when these standard therapies fail to help patients with a life-threatening arrhythmia (ventricular tachycardia; VT), they may be suitable candidates for non-invasive ablation.
In particular, patients who qualify for non-invasive ablation include those who suffer from arrhythmia in an area that is inaccessible, usually due to thickening and scarring of the heart muscle.
Why choose Sheba for non-invasive ablation?
At present, non-invasive ablation is only available at The Eli and Zohara Davidai Arrhythmia Center at Sheba. Opened recently, our center is the largest and most innovative in Israel. Our staff consists of premier cardiac experts who specialize in arrhythmias, working in collaboration with experienced physicians from our Institute of Radiotherapy. You will benefit from the latest technologies and a world-class medical team that has trained at leading hospitals worldwide.
Sheba is constantly at the forefront of research to pioneer new therapies and improve cardiac ablation. Currently, our doctors are involved in several studies in the field of electrophysiology and cardiac pacing. Some of these studies are being conducted in collaboration with the world’s best healthcare facilities, such as Mayo Clinic, and we have published multiple research papers and presented dozens of abstracts at international scientific conferences.
At Sheba, we are committed to custom-tailoring medicine to treat each patient’s unique condition. Our goal is to create the most efficient and effective healthcare experience possible. Towards that end, every patient is also assigned a personal coordinator from the International Medical Tourism Division who assists with every aspect of the treatment process at Sheba.