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About the Therapy
If you have atrial fibrillation that is not well controlled by medication, your doctor may recommend catheter ablation. Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that may lessen the number of episodes or treat your atrial fibrillation
Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure in which the doctor threads a flexible thin tube (catheter) through the blood vessels to your heart to terminate (ablate) abnormal electrical pathways in the heart tissue.
As with any medical procedure, there are benefits and associated risks with catheter ablation. An important benefit of successful catheter ablation is that you may lessen the symptoms caused by atrial fibrillation like shortness of breath, fatigue, or weakness. Some of the risks include stroke, pericardial tamponade, narrowing of pulmonary veins, and irritation. Talk to your doctor about all benefits and risks.
Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure in which the doctor threads a flexible thin tube (catheter) through the blood vessels to your heart to terminate (ablate) abnormal electrical pathways (signals) in the heart tissue.
If you have atrial fibrillation that has not responded to medication, your doctor may recommend catheter ablation.
The goal of atrial fibrillation catheter ablation is to prevent unwanted electrical currents from traveling from the pulmonary veins (large blood vessels that carry blood from the lungs to the left atrium of the heart) to the atria (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 currents and stop them from spreading and continuing to cause AF.
Different catheter-based ablation devices and techniques may be used. They generally fall into two categories, based on the type of energy they apply:
Once the abnormal electrical signals, causing the AF or irregular heartbeat, are identified in the pulmonary veins, the RF ablation catheter delivers RF energy to the identified heart tissue, thus, blocking the abnormal electrical pathways. This prevents the abnormal electrical signals, like those in atrial fibrillation, from being conducted.
A refrigerant (cooling material) is delivered within the catheter to cool the catheter tip. This freezes and destroys the cells at the entrance to the pulmonary veins. Once the disruptive tissue is frozen, it can no longer interfere with the heart’s normal rhythm. One unique feature of cryoablation is that it uses the properties of hypothermia. Another advantage is that when the tissue cools, the catheter sticks to it, which is known as cryoadhesion. Cryoadhesion provides the physician with greater stability of the catheter. Regardless of the energy source, the aim of catheter ablation is to terminate, or block, the electrical cells which are causing the atrial fibrillation. Together, you and your doctor can determine which type of catheter ablation is best for your medical condition.
Although many patients benefit from catheter ablation, results may vary. As with any medical procedure, there are benefits and risks. Your doctor can help you decide if catheter ablation is right for you.
One method for treating paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF) 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.
Arctic Front is an effective, efficient and straightforward medical device for treating PAF. It has been used to treat over 250,000 patients in 350 centers worldwide. Because of its balloon shape, Arctic Front allows physicians to reach and treat pulmonary veins (the site of unwanted electrical currents which trigger your AF) quickly and efficiently. As with any medical procedure, there are benefits and risks with catheter ablation.
Many patients who were treated with Arctic Front experience a welcome improvement in their quality of life as unpleasant symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and weakness lessen or disappear.
Cryoablation prevents unwanted electrical currents from traveling from the pulmonary veins (large blood vessels that carry blood from the lungs to the left atrium of the heart) and spreading to the atria (the upper chambers of the heart). This is done with a technique known as pulmonary vein isolation that targets the tissue where the veins and the atria connect and prevents it from spreading unwanted electrical currents. The Arctic Front cryoballoon catheter was developed specifically to achieve pulmonary vein isolation.
In the procedure, the physician makes a small cut in the groin area through which to insert the catheter. The physician threads the catheter to the left atrium of the heart. Then he/she creates a puncture in the wall that separates the left and right sides of the heart. The puncture provides access to the left atrium. The cryoballoon catheter is introduced into 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.
Catheter ablation may treat atrial fibrillation. In combination with a complete program of treatment, catheter ablation 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 a catheter ablation procedure1. Be sure to speak with your doctor about your condition. The procedure may be an effective way to treat atrial fibrillation, improving patients’ quality of life.
As with any medical procedure, there are benefits and risks with catheter ablation. No test or procedure, especially one that involves the heart, is ever 100% risk-free, but the Electrophysiology study and catheter ablation is associated with a low rate (usually <1%; but your doctor will clarify this with you) of serious complications. You should expect a small amount of bruising at the site where the veins are punctured. Very mild pain at these sites is normal for several days after the procedure and usually disappears after several days.Some of the risks include stroke, pericardial tamponade, narrowing of pulmonary veins, damage to the blood vessels in your groin area, and a serious but extremely rare risk of atrio-esophageal fistula. Other risks include irritation, infection, or bleeding occurring where the catheter was inserted; the heart could be punctured; fluid may build up around the heart, or in rare cases death may occur.
Remember to talk to your doctor about all benefits and risks that are specific to your condition, and any concerns or questions you have. Although many patients benefit from catheter ablation, results may vary. Your doctor can help you decide if it is right for you.
Read about the experiences of people who have received catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation. You’ll learn first-hand what life was like for these particular patients, both before and after their procedures.
As a real estate investor with a passion for sailing, Anton needed to be alert, healthy and ready to move whenever the wind changed direction, on the market or on the water. Long solo sailing trips on the open ocean were a regular part of his life, but troubling signs of a heart problem added an unwelcome element of danger in recent years. After several episodes of an irregular heartbeat, weakness and shortness of breath over a period of half a year, Anton was diagnosed with Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation (PAF).
Dick has always led an active lifestyle including competitive tennis, golfing, and biking. He was not ready to let the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation to slow him down at age 70. Dick was prescribed AF medication to treat his AF, but he wanted a more permanent solution.
Gordy remembers when his heart palpitations started over 10 years ago. His heart would pound rapidly for a few beats or a few minutes, then stop by itself. “I could even feel the racing pulse in my finger tips,” described Gordy, age 74. “The episodes gradually became more frequent, lasted longer, and often woke me up at night.” Even though Gordy is a pathologist, a doctor specializing in diseases, it took a heart doctor friend to convince him to have some tests.
As a physician himself, Jay is very aware of every abnormal heartbeat and was diagnosed with AF at age 55. “Medication reduced the number of AF episodes at first” but left Jay with no energy or interest in doing anything else. Jay and his heart specialist discussed a catheter ablation procedure as an alternative to medication for treating AF.
Medtronic Inc., Arctic Front Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter clinical reports, in support of FDA premarket approval.
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.