Cardiac procedures are transitioning from open-chest to catheter-based with increasing complexity, from relatively simple angioplasty and stents to valve replacement and ablation of cardiac arrhythmias. These catheter-based procedures have led to a better patient experience with faster recovery times but involve complex and potentially risky maneuvers such as accessing the left side of the heart from the right using a needle (transseptal puncture) and ablating cardiac tissue. Interventional cardiologists have lost their sense of touch operating down the length of a flexible catheter and are forced to rely on proxies such as 2-dimensional fluoroscopy, mapping systems, and ultrasound displays to maneuver around 3-dimensional structures in a beating heart and determine if they have stable and safe tissue contact.
The integration of haptic (tactile and force) feedback into catheter-based procedures will give interventional cardiologists improved catheter control and faster reaction time, enabling them to better manipulate catheters, guiding sheaths, and transseptal needles around delicate cardiac structures, and focus on critical aspects of the procedure. There are many cardiac catheter-based procedures and intra-procedure use cases that could benefit from the integration of the haptic technology under development, but the current focus is on no/low fluoro Transseptal Puncture, Contact Force During Ablation Procedures, and Structural Heart Procedures (Valve Repair/Replacement and intracardiac device implantation) (2M+ procedures per year; 10% CAGR through 2030).
HapticHeart Solutions is developing a device and company agnostic system including a wearable that converts physiological and biophysical signals into actionable haptic feedback. Pressure, contact, contact force, impedance, blood flow, temperature and electrocardiogram signal data are acquired from systems in the cath lab and input into a computing system that generates haptic signals. These signals are delivered to the interventional cardiologist via the wearable so they can palpate as if their hand is in the patient’s heart. This feedback improves their reaction times, reduces visual overload, and allows them to focus on the most critical aspects of the procedure leading to more efficient procedures, less adverse events, better patient outcomes, and reduced healthcare costs.
HapticHeart Solutions has a functional prototype that has received positive KOL feedback, proof of concept data that was published and presented at several international conferences, and 5 issued patents (6 pending). They have partnerships with two academic engineering departments, IRB approved protocols at two medical centers, and are collaborating with an award-winning, FDA and ISO compliant medical device product development firm that has over 50 years of experience.
Meet the team
Alessandro joined NLC in April 2022 and brings over 20 years of experience in the MedTech industry. His passion lies in translating clinical needs into meaningful solutions, building purpose-driven 'tribes' of early adopters and taking impactful innovations from idea to business realisation. He has lived in four European countries and has travelled to more than 20 countries with great curiosity for healthcare systems, and the local food culture.