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Fields & Applications Spectroscopy, Clinical

Mending a Broken Heart

The only way to treat ventricular tachycardia – a serious type of abnormal heartbeat – is by using radiofrequency ablation to prevent abnormal signal transmission from troublesome areas of the heart. But to precisely target such treatment, clinicians face the challenge of differentiating between fat and muscle tissue.

A new ablation catheter incorporating near-infrared spectroscopy mapping. Credit: Christine P. Hendon, Columbia University. Photographer: John Abbott.

With a solution in mind, researchers have developed a catheter that incorporates near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) mapping (1). “The technique lets us distinguish various types of tissue within human hearts because fat, muscle and ablation lesions all have different scattering and absorption wavelength-dependent properties,” said research team leader Christine Hendon (2).

The approach could also help researchers develop new computational models to better understand arrhythmia. But in the more immediate future, the team hopes to create an improved catheter and test their technique on large animals.

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  1. The Optical Society (2020). Available at: https://bit.ly/3gEZN1y
  2. RP Singh-moon et al., Biomed Opt Exp, 11, 4099 (2020). DOI: 10.1364/BOE.394294

About the Author

Lauren Robertson

By the time I finished my degree in Microbiology I had come to one conclusion – I did not want to work in a lab. Instead, I decided to move to the south of Spain to teach English. After two brilliant years, I realized that I missed science, and what I really enjoyed was communicating scientific ideas – whether that be to four-year-olds or mature professionals. On returning to England I landed a role in science writing and found it combined my passions perfectly. Now at Texere, I get to hone these skills every day by writing about the latest research in an exciting, creative way.

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