BME Seminar Series: Dr. Birce Onal, Medtronic
"Catheter ablation: treating paroxysmal and persistent atrial fibrillation"
Atrial fibrillation (AF) has a global prevalence of 33 million patients and is predicted to affect 6-12 million in the US by 2050. AF recurrence is correlated with increased mortality, indicating that the likelihood of long-term complications is high unless the course of disease is interrupted. Catheter ablation by way of electrically isolating the pulmonary veins is a cornerstone of AF treatment for patients with paroxysmal or persistent atrial fibrillation who have failed anti-arrhythmic drug therapy. In a large, randomized global clinical trial (NCT01490814), standard technologies of radiofrequency or cryoablation energy delivered for pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) resulted in comparable safety and efficacy outcomes. More consistent procedure times and fewer re-do ablation procedures were observed with cryoballoon ablation compared to radiofrequency ablation. Although novel catheter ablation technologies have been developed using various energy modalities, achieving the endpoint of permanent PVI while minimizing safety complications is still a challenge. In light of a rapidly expanding field of catheter ablation technologies, multiple clinical trials and technologies are poised to fill a gap with the potential for reducing safety profiles, improving efficacy, and streamlining procedure times for cardiac electrophysiologists.
Dr. Onal is an employee of the Atrial Fibrillation Solutions division of Medtronic, Inc. She currently works on next-generation catheter ablation technologies moving towards human clinical trials and serves as a clinical evidence representative on product development teams. Prior to Medtronic, she completed her PhD in Biomedical Engineering at The Ohio State University under the guidance of Dr. Thomas Hund. The focus of her graduate work was using mathematical modeling as a predictive tool for cardiac disease, specifically with respect to ion channel modeling in the pathophysiology of atrial fibrillation. Dr. Onal also holds a BSE from Washington University in St. Louis, where she majored in biomedical engineering and minored in computer science. Her research interests include both cellular and tissue-level pathophysiology of atrial fibrillation, and development of next-generation medical devices to interrupt and treat fatal cardiac arrhythmias.