The device, which Medtronic acquired through its $800 million acquisition of Ardian earlier this year, is called the (pdf) Symplicity Catheter System. It works via a process known as renal denervation, or ablation of the nerves that line the renal arteries, and could represent a way to control resistant hypertension without drugs.
Renal denervation is a 40-minute, minimally invasive procedure that involves introducing a catheter through the femoral artery into the renal artery near each kidney. Once in place, the tip of the catheter delivers multiple two-minute treatments of radio-frequency energy to affect nerves in the renal sympathetic system, according to Cleveland Clinic.
The device has the potential to dramatically lower high blood pressure on “what appears to be” a permanent basis, said Dr. Steven Nissen, chair of Cleveland Clinic’s cardiovascular medicine department.
“Unless we’re missing something, this is a technology that’s transformative … It’s a really big deal,” Nissen said.
Medtronic hopes to have the treatment on the market in the U.S. by 2014, according to spokesman Joe McGrath. It’s already commercially available in the European Union and Australia.
The company expects shortly to begin enrollment in a 530-patient trial that’s aimed at helping Medtronic obtain regulatory clearance of the Symplicity system from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, McGrath said.
Here’s the rest of the Top Medical Innovations of 2012 list from Cleveland Clinic.
2. CT scans for early detection of lung cancer: In June, the New England Journal of Medicine published long-awaited data from the National Lung Screening Trial that validated the diagnostic use of low-dose spiral computer tomography as a screening tool for lung cancer. The scan is more effective than standard X-rays in detecting tumors, even small ones, earlier, when they are more treatable with surgery.
3. Concussion Management System for athletes: These tools establish an athlete’s baseline cognitive and motor skills at the start of the athletic season. At the moment of contact, the tools can detect brain injuries right away. Afterward, the athlete’s cognitive and motor skills are re-tested to see when it is safe for an athlete to return to his or her sport.
4. Medical apps for mobile devices: Thousands of software applications on the market let health professionals and consumers get medical resources on their smartphones and other mobile devices.
5. Increasing discovery with next-generation gene sequencing: New sequencing machines are smaller, faster and cheaper than previous versions used to sequence the human genome as part of the Human Genome Project.
6. Implantable device to treat complex brain aneurysms: A new FDA-approved device — a flexible braid mesh tube — is implanted directly into the carotid artery, the major blood vessel that supplies blood to the front of the brain. The device redirects blood flow away from the aneurysm to the undamaged part of the blood vessel, allowing a clot to form, preventing the aneurysm from rupturing.
7. Active bionic prosthesis that serves as a wearable robotic device: This lightweight, durable and computerized bionic leg uses microprocessors, sensors, a motor and a carbon-filled spring to mimic natural motion. A battery-powered motor replaces the function of missing muscles and Bluetooth technology allows a person to adjust settings easily with a smartphone.
8. Harnessing big data to improve healthcare: Innovative companies are answering the call to begin mining massive amounts of medical information in a format that’s easy to access and share, while at the same time assuring patient privacy.
9. SGLT2 inhibitors as diabetes therapy: A new class of drugs called sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 protein inhibitors reduce blood sugar by causing it to be excreted through urine. The once-a-day medication blocks the protein and the return of high levels of glucose in the body. The SGLT2 inhibitors also contribute to weight loss.
10. Genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce disease threat: Researchers are exploring new ways to eradicate mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and West Nile virus by creating sterile, re-engineered male mosquitoes to mate with wild female species.