Our Cryoablation Catheter Catheter Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation

Treating Atrial Fibrillation

One method for treating atrial fibrillation (AFib) is cryoablation using the Medtronic cryoballoon catheter. The cryoballoon delivers a refrigerant through an inflatable balloon to freeze tissue and disable unwanted electrical signals that contribute to AFib.

The cryoballoon is a safe, effective, and efficient medical device for treating AFib. Nearly one million patients in over 80 countries worldwide have been treated with Medtronic cryoablation devices. 

Medtronic cryoballoon ablation is a safe and effective treatment before or after medication therapy to control your AFib. It’s a minimally invasive procedure, with a short recovery time, that may make a big difference in the way you feel.

The goal of the cryoballoon ablation procedure is to stop unwanted electrical signals in the pulmonary veins, and the Medtronic cryoballoon is the only FDA-approved ablation device to treat patients prior to trying antiarrhythmic drugs.

Cryoablation is performed by an electrophysiologist (EP) who specializes in the treatment of irregular heart rhythms. The procedure is relatively short and patients undergoing cryoablation may be less likely to need a repeat ablation or be rehospitalized after ablation.

Patients treated with the Medtronic cryoballoon may experience an improvement in their quality of life as unpleasant symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and weakness lessen or disappear.

Medtronic Cryoballoon

Arctic Front Advance Pro cryoballoon on a white background

Cryoablation prevents unwanted electrical signals 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 the spread of unwanted electrical signals. The Medtronic cryoballoon catheter was developed specifically to achieve pulmonary vein isolation.

How Does a Cryoablation Procedure Work?

Watch a narrated animation of what happens during a cryoballoon ablation.

The cryoablation procedure can be summarized as follows:


Illustration of cryoballoon accessing the pulmonary vein

The doctor makes a small incision in the groin area to insert the catheter (small tube) to reach the heart. The doctor then must go through thin tissue that separates the left and right side of the heart to reach the pulmonary veins with the cryoballoon.


Illustration of inflated cryoballoon about to be positioned in pulmonary vein

The doctor inflates the balloon and moves it to the opening of the pulmonary vein. The goal is to maintain contact with the opening of the pulmonary vein (this is called occlusion) so the balloon is able to reach a cold enough temperature.

Freeze (Ablate)

Illustration of cryoballoon showing complete occlusion of pulmonary vein

When the cryoballoon is in position, the doctor freezes the tissue, creating a scar where the balloon touches the opening of the pulmonary vein. This line of scar tissue stops the transmission of electrical signals that cause atrial fibrillation.

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.