Listen

OSU Using Live Organs To Study Irregular Human Heartbeats

Feb 7, 2017

Ohio State University researchers are using live human hearts to study better ways to detect and treat irregular heartbeats.

Mike Foley reports.

Biologist Vadim Fedorov developed the technique at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center. Upon receiving a donated heart from a transplant patient, his team has about 12 hours to prepare and collect the data. Scientists take the top portions, known as the atria, and place them in a dish surrounded by four high-speed optical cameras. Researchers revive the tissue and inject it with a special dye that detects electrical signals. While standard imaging provides – at most - a couple hundred recordings of the heart, Federov says the cameras used in his technique deliver 40,000 recordings, all in 3D. Ohio State electrophysiologist Dr. John Hummel says it’s an important contribution to the study of atrial fibrillation, the most common type of heart arrhythmia.

“The day is coming where we can leverage that knowledge into ways to identify definitively which regions in a human being’s heart are responsible not only for triggering atrial fibrillation but for maintaining it, sustaining it.”

Researchers a-fib affects about six million people in the U.S. - and when not treated properly can lead to blood clots, stroke and heart failure.