Catherter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that is used when medication fails to control an abnormal heart rhythm. 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 that are the cause of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF). The standard ablation method for accomplishing this goal is called pulmonary vein isolation (PVI). During the PVI procedure, catheters are used to terminate the abnormal electrical circuits and stop them from spreading and continuing to cause AF.
A new ablation technique available at the McLeod Heart and Vascular Institute for the treatment of PAF is cryoablation. During cryoablation, a refrigerant is delivered through an inflatable balloon to freeze tissue and disable unwanted electrical circuits that contribute to PAF. Because of its balloon shape, McLeod Electrophysiologists are able to reach and treat pulmonary veins quickly and efficiently. The anatomical shape and large surface area of the balloon creates circumferential lesions with minimal energy applications. On average, the pulmonary vein isolation is typically achieved after two to three, 4-minute applications of energy per vein.