Answers to Common Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about atrial fibrillation.

What are advantages of using cryoballoon ablation to treat abnormal heart rhythms?

Premier Health’s Dr. Kevin Kravitz discusses the advantages of cryoballoon ablation in the treatment of arrhythmias. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Catheter ablation is a procedure used to treat, and often cure, atrial fibrillation (A Fib) by destroying tissue around vein openings that has been identified as the source of short circuits, as Dr. Kravitz calls them, in the upper chambers of the heart (atria). In cryoballoon ablation, a balloon containing liquid nitrogen is inflated at the vein opening, creating a circular lesion that cuts off electrical conduction to the rest of the heart.

According to Dr. Wilber Su, an electrophysiologist at Cavanagh Heart CenterOff Site Icon in Phoenix, Arizona, this procedure has a number of advantages over the ablations done via radiofrequency. These advantages include:

  • Less tissue manipulation by the surgeon
    The balloon actually freezes to the tissue, minimizing damage to surrounding tissues. Atrio-esophageal fistulas, a potentially fatal complication of ablation procedures, are less common (possibly absent) following cryoballoon ablation, according to a 2011 Journal of Innovations in Cardiac Rhythm Management [Link to http://www.innovationsincrm.com/ in a new window with off site icon and 3rd party content disclaimer] article.
  • Less use of fluoroscope (X-ray)
    Experienced surgeons may only use the fluoroscope for five minutes, significantly reducing the patient’s radiation exposure.
  • Shorter procedure time
    Cryoballoon ablation can be done in approximately two hours compared to procedure time of four hours or more when using radiofrequency. As a result, patients are under general anesthesia for less time, reducing risks of anesthesia complications.

Cryoballoon ablation is a relatively new method of treating arrhythmias, so statistics about patient safety and outcomes are limited. However, physicians in the field expect to see improved success rates for patients with atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias.

For more information about the advantages of cryoballoon ablation, please speak with your health care provider. 

Learn more:

Source: Kevin Kravitz, MD, Dayton Heart Center; Mark E. Krebs, MD, Miami Valley Cardiologists; Abdul Wase, MD, The Premier Heart Associates; Sameh Khouzam, MD, Dayton Heart Center

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