Cardiac arrhythmias can be treated by creating scar tissue to stop the electrical conduction of the heart. This scar tissue can be created mechanically or thermally (using heat or cold), though both methods have drawbacks. Creating scar tissue mechanically, which involves opening the chest and placing the patient onto a cardiopulmonary bypass circuit, is invasive, painful for patients, and carries risks including infection, kidney and lung failure, and memory loss. Creating scar tissue thermally, via a catheter with a heated tip placed in the patient’s vein and threaded into the heart, is difficult because the catheter tips are small (4.5–8 mm) and the beating heart makes creating a linear transmural lesion (from the endocardium to the epicardium) challenging. In addition, the electrophysiologist cannot directly see the catheter tip location or how much movement has occurred between the catheter tip and the heart wall. The more movement between the catheter tip and heart tissue, the less effective the coagulation of tissue procedure.
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