Treating Afib or Atrial Fibrillation with Cryoablation
When medication is not sufficient to control Afib, an irregular heart rhythm, a catheter ablation is performed to prevent the unwanted electrical currents from traveling from the pulmonary veins and spreading to the upper chambers of the heart. Eliminating these abnormal circuits stops them from spreading and causing the atrial fibrillation.
How the Arctic Front® Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter Works to Treat Afib or Atrial Fibrillation
One method for treating Afib, or atrial fibrillation, is cryoablation using the Arctic Front® Cryoballoon catheter. As its name indicates, the Arctic Front Cryoballoon delivers a refrigerant through an inflatable balloon to freeze tissue and disable unwanted electrical circuits that contribute to PAF.
Envision the small catheter shown here as being tiny enough to be guided through the femoral vein (located in the groin area) and up into the heart. In the catheter tip is a liquid coolant that when injected expands to a gas, causing the tip to cool to an extremely low temperature. Watch an animation demonstrating how cryoablation works.
The Cryoballoon catheter enters the left atrium.
The physician inflates the balloon and moves it to the opening of the pulmonary vein.
The goal is to close off the opening of the pulmonary vein completely, which stops the flow of blood between the atrium and the vein. This is called occlusion.
Once occlusion is confirmed, the physician introduces liquid refrigerant into the balloon. The refrigerant evaporates and removes heat from the heart tissue at the opening of the pulmonary vein where the balloon is in contact with it. As a result, the tissue is scarred and may no longer spread the electrical currents that cause atrial fibrillation.
To date, more than 15,000 patients in more than 200 centers worldwide have benefited from ArcticFront cardiac cryoballoon ablation.
J. Thomas Svinarich, MD, FACC
Colorado Heart & Vascular
*Images courtesy of Medtronic