Dr. Andrea Natale, the executive medical director of the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute, is a lead researcher on the first human clinical study to evaluate the benefits of artificial intelligence in electrophysiology procedures.
The study centers around the NeuTrace EP Platform, a technology that may one day assist electrophysiologists during cardiac procedures, namely atrial fibrillation, with AI guidance. Dr. Natale says the technology will improve patient safety and reduce the duration of cardiac operations. If the EP Platform gets FDA approval, it would be another surgical tool available to an estimated 6.1 million A-fib sufferers in the U.S. The platform is awaiting the FDA’s marketing authorization.
“This first-of-its-kind, innovative, AI-driven EP platform allows us to enhance ablation by providing advanced metrics and comprehensive patient data in real time for a more precise delivery during complex ablation procedures,” says Natale. “The AI-guided cardiac mapping technology is designed to provide a much safer option for patients and ensure the best possible outcomes.”
NeuTrace creators say AI enhances the platform’s signal quality so that electrophysiologists can better visualize the heart during procedures. The advanced metrics, high-fidelity visualizations, and 3D navigation allow for more precision in the mapping and ablation of the heart.
A World-Renowned Heart Expert
The NeuTrace EP Platform study is just the latest in a long line of research for Natale, who has authored over 600 publications on arrhythmia treatments. Natale is a world-renowned healthcare researcher, clinician, and academic who has pioneered advancements in electrophysiology and has centered his career around improving the lives of patients with cardiac arrhythmias.
The key to his success, he admits, is simple: never stop learning.
“Medical research is a very competitive field, and it is of utmost importance to be up-to-date with new discoveries and research studies,” says Natale. “I always invite my fellows and colleagues to find some daily time to read what’s new in the literature, study hard, and think independently. Also, I believe that any research study is time-sensitive, and it is important to be persistent and efficient in pursuing projects.”
His pursuit of projects has led him to many firsts. He was the first physician in the U.S. to perform percutaneous epicardial radiofrequency ablation on patients who didn’t respond to conventional ablation techniques. He’s also invented surgical techniques, developing catheter-based treatments for rhythm disorders, including ablating the superior vena cava for A-fib and the His-Purkinje System (HPS) for ventricular fibrillation.
His electrophysiology peers’ continued education is another passion. In 2012, he founded the EPLive Conference, which trains and educates cardiac physicians via interactive clinical demonstrations. The event debuted in Austin, Texas, and has since expanded to Milan, Dubai, and Bogotá.
A Decorated Career
Dr. Natale admits that he was always fascinated with matters of the heart since his early days as a medical student.
“During my last years of cardiology training, I fell in love with the field of cardiac electrophysiology and invasive cardiac arrhythmia diagnosis and treatment, which, at that time, was still at an initial stage but was already evolving at a very rapid pace,” recalls Natale. “The clinical and technological advancements of the field excite me today as much as they did when I was a young cardiologist in training.”
That mindset has won him armfuls of accolades. Natale is a recipient of the Frist Humanitarian Award, which recognized his ongoing achievements in cardiology and electrophysiology. Each year, the Frist Humanitarian Award honors an individual who embodies the humanitarian spirit and philanthropic work of the late Dr. Thomas F. Frist. The award also recognizes employees, physicians, and hospital volunteers who strive to improve the welfare and happiness of patients in their communities.
Dr. Natale also received the 2017 Eric N. Prystowsky Advocate for Patients Award during the “Get In Rhythm. Stay In Rhythm” Atrial Fibrillation Patient Conference in Dallas, Texas. The award honors doctors who have provided excellent service and significantly bettered the lives of patients and their families with A-fib.