Electromagnetic Contact-Force Sensing Electrophysiological Catheters: How Accurate is the Technology?
Contact-force (CF) sensing catheters are increasingly used in clinical electrophysiological practice due to their efficacy and safety profile. As data about the accuracy of this technology are scarce, we sought to quantify accuracy based on in vitro experiments.A custom-made force sensor was constructed that allowed exact force reference measurements registered via a flexible membrane. A Smarttouch Surround Flow (ST SF) ablation catheter (Biosense Webster, Diamond Bar, CA, USA) was brought in contact with the membrane of the force sensor in order to compare the ST SF force measurements to force sensor reference measurements. ST SF force sensing technology is based on deflection registration between the distal and proximal catheter tip. The experiment was repeated for n = 10 ST SF catheters, which showed no significant difference in accuracy levels. A series of measurements (n = 1200) was carried out for different angles of force acting to the catheter tip (0°/perpendicular contact, 30°, 60°, 90°/parallelcontact). The mean absolute differences between reference and ST SF measurements were 1.7 ± 1.8 g (0°), 1.6 ± 1.2 g (30°), 1.4 ± 1.3 g (60°), and 6.6 ± 5.9 g (90°). Measurement accuracy was significantly higher in non-parallel contact when compared with parallel contact (P< 0.01).Catheter force measurements using the ST SF catheters show a high level of accuracy regarding differences to reference measurements and reproducibility. The reduced accuracy in measurements of 90° acting forces (parallel contact) might be clinically important when creating, for example, linear lesions.