Doctors sometimes use a procedure called RF ablation to treat dysfunctional areas of the heart but with varied success, in part due to lack of feedback monitoring technology. To address this unmet need, a group of investigators from Germany and Canada have developed a catheter which enables both RF ablation and pulsed laser light delivery to tissues. Pulsed laser light generates ultrasonic waves when absorbed by tissues. These signals are detected by an external ultrasound transducer array to form optoacoustic images of the RF heating process. Experiments in heart samples demonstrate promise for monitoring and guiding ablation procedures. The present work offers qualitative tracking results. Future work aims to address the capacity to differentiate ablation signal changes from other sources of optical contrast and to improve quantitation. If successful, the technology could improve outcomes of the many cardiac patients needing RF ablation procedures.
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