Cryoablation Now Available for Atrial Fibrillation Patients
January 31, 2013
Worcester, MA - Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that is used when medications fail to treat afib. Catheter ablation is performed in our electrophysiology lab by a team of highly skilled nurses and technicians who work alongside the electrophysiologist.
In paroxysmal AF, (PAF) the goal of catheter ablation is to prevent unwanted electrical currents from traveling from the pulmonary veins and spreading to the upper chambers of the heart. The standard ablation technique for accomplishing this goal is called pulmonary vein isolation. During the procedure, catheters are used to terminate (ablate) these abnormal electrical circuits and stop them from spreading and continuing to cause AF. UMass Memorial uses two techniques to perform pulmonary vein isolation: Radiofrequency (RF) ablation and just recently began using Cryoablation. While Cryoablation has been in use for several years, the new non-surgical balloon catheter procedure was recently approved by the FDA.
Cryoablation delivers a refrigerant through an inflatable balloon to freeze tissue and disable unwanted electrical circuits that contribute to PAF. Cryoablation is safe because it has a low risk of complications. It has been used to treat over 10,000 patients in 200 centers worldwide. It allows physicians to reach and treat pulmonary veins quickly and efficiently.
Due to its balloon shape, an advantage of cryoablation is the ability for the physician to create a continuous line of scar tissue all the way around the pulmonary vein with just a few applications. With other “point-to-point” catheter systems, repeated applications are made to create many small lesions in an attempt to form a continuous line of scar tissue.
In combination with a complete program of treatment, Cryoablation may improve your quality of life and eliminate or reduce the unpleasant symptoms of atrial fibrillation like shortness of breath, fatigue, or weakness. Some patients may require more than one catheter ablation procedure. In some cases, patients may not require further drug treatment after receiving the procedure.
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