Robots have gained their place taken place in almost all areas of our daily life. Robotic systems have been introduced for ablation therapies associated with the hope of automation of procedures, increase in precision of lesion placement, improved energy transmission to the tissue and reduction in radiation exposure of the patients and the interventionalist. Finally, they may be associated with higher comfort for the operator by transferring his work into the control room and thereby supersede wearing sterile and radiation protective clothing. Systems providing a remote mechanical replacement of the operators´ hands have been introduced as well as systems guiding the catheter tip by external magnets. Guiding of the catheter tip has major impact on contact to the tissue and thereby modifies energy transmission. This may be advantageous in terms of higher catheter stability and modification of contact towards a more constant than intermittent type of contact. However, increasing contact bears the risk of mechanical perforation and excessive energy delivery. Many clinical studies have been conducted evaluating novel remotely guiding techniques in atrial fibrillation ablation procedures. Although only a few of them are prospectively randomized, reduction in fluoroscopy exposure has been found in most of the trials. Data on outcome is less uniform. It seems that remote navigation does not improve outcomes and on the other hand does not increase complication rates. However, large prospectively randomized trials conducted by operators well skilled not only in manual but also in remote techniques would be needed to compare outcomes particularly in terms of decrease in complication rates. Finally, the type of navigation chosen actually is and probably will remain a question of personal preference.
Credits: Georg Nölker; Dieter Horstkotte; Klaus Jürgen Gutleben