John Muir Health’s Concord medical centre one of 20 hospitals in USA to use FIRMap catheter in treatment of atrial fibrillation


John Muir Health’s Concord medical centre is the first hospital in Northern California and one of just 20 hospitals in the USA to begin treating patients who suffer from atrial fibrillation, the most common type of heart arrhythmia, with a new procedure that features the FDA-cleared FIRMap catheter.

“To successfully treat atrial fibrillation, the actual source must be identified, as well as the triggering cells. The exact areas in the upper chamber of the heart responsible for maintaining fibrillation have historically proven to be elusive resulting in a lower success rate than desired and creating frustration for patients and physicians,” says Susan Eisenberg, Cardiac Rhythm Center medical director at John Muir Health. “Using the FIRMap catheter and 3D mapping technology, the treatment results are far beyond any medication or surgical procedure previously available. We can now pinpoint the patient-specific source of arrhythmia with accuracy, which is critical as it allows us to address the cause of atrial fibrillation in a single procedure with a very high rate of success.”

Clinical trials showed that 82.4% of patients treated using the FIRMap catheter and 3D mapping technology were free of atrial fibrillation after a single procedure versus 44.9% of those treated with the standard pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) approach. After three years, 77.8% of patients treated with the FIRM technology were free of atrial fibrillation compared to 38.5% treated with the PVI approach.

“Previously, the treatment options were limited to a one-size fits all approach, which had a much lower success rate and, therefore, would need to be repeated,” says Eisenberg. “Undergoing the procedure again is inconvenient for patients, means they still are living with atrial fibrillation, increases their number of doctor visits and raises healthcare costs.”

John Muir Health has performed the new procedure on 30 patients thus far with excellent results.

The FIRMap catheter, developed by Topera, is an innovative medical device that allows doctors to view specific areas in the heart, which could sustain an arrhythmia. This device, along with a ground-breaking 3D mapping system, has become essential when performing the progressive procedure known as FIRM guided ablation, which strives to detect and neutralise the source of electrical impulses or “rotors” disrupting the heart’s normal rhythm. Using this technology, the ablation procedure can target a patient-specific area of the heart, which is critical to that patient’s arrhythmia. The precision of the procedure ultimately aims to diminish recurrence rates among patients.