Rhythm Map Mapping Method: identifying the location of drivers of cardiac arrhythmia


Rhythm Map – a diagnostic tool to improve outcomes of atrial fibrillation ablation therapy


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most prevalent cardiac arrhythmia and is a substantial and growing health problem worldwide. Today, everyone aged 40 or over has a life time risk of developing AF of at least one in four[1]. Among many damaging and debilitating consequences, AF increases an individual’s risk of suffering a stroke by five times[2].  This effect alone results in considerable disability and death, and high economic cost to health services and economies. PwC estimates that the annual cost to the Australian economy in 2008-09 resulting from AF was at least AU$1.25 billion[3].

The first-line therapy for AF patients is antiarrhythmic medication, but the drugs are not always effective or may cause unpleasant side effects. In these cases, catheter ablation is an increasingly used therapeutic strategy for the management of AF, with procedure numbers growing consistently at >20% per annum since 2005 (Medtech Insight 2012). Market data indicate that in excess of 300,000 catheter ablations for AF are now performed annually worldwide, with a market value of around US$2.5 billion (Frost and Sullivan 2009).

The standard catheter ablation procedure is ablation of the pulmonary vein, which is the dominant source of triggers initiating AF. This is effective for most patients with paroxysomal AF. However, in patients with persistent AF, pulmonary vein isolation alone is often insufficient to produce long-term freedom from AF.  

To improve outcomes for persistent AF patients, researchers at the Centre for Heart Rhythm Disorders at the University of Adelaide have developed Rhythm Map, a software tool that identifies electrical disturbances in the atrium, or “rotors”, which maintain fibrillation once it is initiated. The locations of the rotors are displayed on a reconstructed 3D model of the patient's heart and then used by the doctor to guide targeted ablation therapy. A host of emerging data show significantly improved success of targeted ablation over conventional ablation, e.g. 82% vs 45%, respectively, single procedure freedom from AF[4].

Commercial Applications:

Rhythm Map addresses a significant unmet medical need in a growing market, with the potential to significantly improve outcomes in the treatment of persistent AF. It complements the existing electroanatomical mapping systems of electrophysiology labs and removes the need for the doctor to review long recordings of data and manually determine the best location to ablate, a serious limitation of other rotor-mapping technologies. Rhythm Map is also simple to understand, avoiding the advanced signal processing steps of competing technologies that can introduce errors into the diagnosis.

The Rhythm Map algorithm can be employed as a standalone system working alongside the various electroanatomical mapping systems currently on the market. In the medium term, Rhythm Map could be offered as an integral or add-on component of those commercial mapping systems. In the longer term, there is scope to develop a high density mapping catheter specifically for Rhythm Map.

IP Position:

ARI has conducted patentability searches and believes that there are patentable technologies embodied in the Rhythm Map software and catheter. It is expected that provisional patent applications will be filed in Q3 2015.

Current Research:

Rhythm Map has been validated on simulated models of atrial fibrillation. The Centre for Heart Rhythm Disorders is now preparing to undertake a clinical trial in late 2015/2016 at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. The team is led by Professor Prash Sanders and has established itself as one of the major electrophysiology groups in Australia with national and international recognition.


Partnering Opportunities:

Currently, we are seeking partners for the continued development of this technology and/or prospective licensees.

[1] Lloyd-Jones DM, Wang TJ, Leip EP et al. Lifetime risk for development of atrial fibrillation: the Framingham Heart Study. Circulation 2004;110: 1042–6

[2] Wolf PA, Abbott RD, Kannel WB. Atrial fibrillation as an independent risk factor for stroke: the Framingham Study. Stroke 1991;22: 983–8

[3] PwC. The economic costs of atrial fibrillation in Australia. 2010.

[4] Narayan SM, krummen DE, Shivkumar K et al. Treatment of atrial fibrillation by the ablation of localized sources. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2012; 60: 628-636

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Kiara Bechta-Metti
The University of Adelaide
Darius Chapman