nContact Surgical, Inc. (nContact) announced it has enrolled the first patient in its IDE trials to evaluate a fully closed chest procedure combining the best of electrophysiologist (EP) catheter and surgical techniques for the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF) using the investigational Numeris® - AF Guided Coagulation System withVisiTrax®.The three-hour procedure is performed in a single setting, generally in the EP lab, by both physicians. "nContact has pioneered a truly minimally invasive approach to epicardial ablation for the treatment of arrhythmias. Our enabling technology and novel access to the posterior of the heart have eliminated the need for chest incisions and ports, while providing direct visualization to create epicardial lesions," said Jim Whayne, Vice President of Clinicals. "We hope both of our closed chest IDE clinical trials will demonstrate that combining surgical and EP cardiology disciplines into one comprehensive procedure will improve efficacy and provide treatment for all AF patients, even the most difficult to treat longstanding persistent." The company also announced successful completion of a preclinical animal research study to evaluate its fully closed chest procedure for a subxyphoid (below the lower most part of the sternum) approach. Epicardial linear lesions were created percutaneously using this subxyphoid approach, as the device was advanced over a guide wire and manipulated throughout the heart. "While it is too early to draw any conclusions, the new technique used in the research study allowed me to know where I was on the heart and to create atrial and ventricular lesions accurately without endoscopes," commented Dr. Miguel Valderrabano, Director of the Division of Electrophysiology at Houston's Methodist Hospital, DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center. "The development of this novel closed chest epicardial approach is critical to expanding patient access to treatment of arrhythmias."