Irradiation on the heart for life-threatening arrhythmias is Belgian first

26 May 2023
UZ Leuven is the first to radiate a patient's heart to help prevent life-threatening arrhythmias.

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Cardiologists and radiotherapists at UZ Leuven have joined forces for a new treatment, where patients with severe cardiac arrhythmia are irradiated on the heart. After positive results of this irradiation technique abroad, this has now also been applied in Belgium for the first time.

Recent progress in imaging and irradiation techniques allows targeted radiation of the affected part of the heart, while sparing the healthy heart tissue as much as possible. This technique has been used for several years to treat malignant tumours. After positive results of this irradiation technique abroad, the promising application of targeted irradiation on the heart is now being tested in Belgium as well. 

The collaboration between cardiologists and radiotherapists offers our patients an additional treatment option.
Prof. dr. Joris Ector

More specifically it concerns patients with arrhythmia originating from the chambers of the heart (ventricular tachycardia). The arrhythmias typically occur in people with underlying heart disease, who have had a heart attack, for example, and usually require treatment with an implantable defibrillator. 

Prof. dr. Joris Ector, cardiologist at UZ Leuven: “Despite good medication and cardiological interventions, we can't get this cardiac arrhythmia under control for each patient. This is why these patients have a greater risk of heart failure and a reduced quality of life. The collaboration between cardiologists and radiotherapists offers our patients an additional treatment option.”

Dr. Patrick Berkovic, radiotherapist-oncologist at UZ Leuven: “Patients who suffer from episodes of arrhythmia despite standard treatment or patients who cannot cope with this treatment are eligible for the new treatment in which a specific part of the heart is irradiated once to drastically reduce the arrhythmia.”

Dr. Bert Vandenberk, cardiologist at UZ Leuven: “To reach a uniform and optimal treatment for this group of patients, it is necessary to treat them in a limited number of centres that have the combination of special expertise and optimal collaboration available in terms of diagnostics, imaging, cardiology and radiotherapy.”

Irradiation of the heart for life-threatening arrhythmia is especially suited to older patients with an unhealthy heart, that can no longer be treated with classic treatments. The focus is mainly on alleviating their burden.  

The first treatment went well and the patient is doing fine.


The promising application of targeted irradiation of the heart is currently being tested in a small patient group with this specific cardiac arrhythmia of the local CREVET study at UZ Leuven.

Last edit: 7 February 2024