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Zurich - A patient with life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia has been treated at University Hospital Zurich using an MRI-directed radioablation for the first time anywhere in world. The hospital is now looking for partners with the aim of further investigating the procedure in joint studies.

According to a press release, the patient was treated at University Hospital Zurich (USZ) by way of an MRI-Linac device. Stephanie Tanadini-Lang, Lead Physicist at the Clinic for Radio-Oncology, commented: “This linear accelerator allowed us to trace all of the targets inside the patient’s body by way of MR imaging both before and during radiotherapy in addition to directing and adjusting the radiotherapy in real time”. The affected portion of the heart can therefore be irradiated in targeted fashion.

The technology was originally developed for cancer treatments. However, it has now been used for the first time anywhere in the world to treat a patient with cardiac arrhythmia. Previously, the patient had undergone “intensive but ultimately unsuccessful” therapy. On account of the complex nature of this patient’s cardiac arrhythmia and the previous procedures attempted, additional invasive techniques would not have been a sensible option. The patient has now been discharged from hospital and is back at home free from any symptoms of cardiac arrhythmia.

Nicolaus Andratschke, Head of the MRI-Linac project and radioablation of cardiac arrhythmia at the Clinic for Radio-Oncology, commented: “This MR-directed radioablation of cardiac arrhythmia, the first of its kind, reveals how USZ successfully combines the latest technology with innovative therapy approaches in an interdisciplinary, interprofessional manner”.

This treatment is still an experimental procedure. Now the focus will switch to investigating the procedure in targeted fashion as part of larger clinical trials. To this end, the clinical research group at USZ is seeking national and international partnerships.

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