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What is cardiac rhythm ablation?

Cardiac rhythm ablation is a procedure in which tissue that is responsible for disorganized electrical signals in the heart is scarred or destroyed. The procedure can be done with a major surgery or with a minimally invasive catheter-based approach. Ablation technologies that are used to treat arrhythmias work either by applying extreme heat or extreme cold to precisely targeted zones on the inside of the heart.¹

What is cardiac rhythm ablation used for?

Cardiac rhythm ablation is used to treat symptomatic atrial fibrillation. This treatment is usually reserved for individuals that are not able to take antiarrhythmic drugs, or individuals that still experience symptoms despite treatment with antiarrhythmic drug therapy. The primary clinical benefit of rhythm ablation treatment is to eliminate the symptoms of arrhythmia, such as palpitations, fatigue, lightheadedness, and exercise intolerance.²

How is cardiac rhythm ablation performed?

Catheter-based cardiac rhythm ablation is performed by an electrophysiologist (a cardiologist that specializes in the electrical activity of the heart) under the guidance of electrophysiology mapping. Prior to ablating any zones within the heart, your electrophysiologist will spend some time mapping out the activity of various electrical pathways in your heart using small wires.³ An ablation catheter is then directed to each of the zones in the heart that are responsible for disorganized or faulty electrical signaling, and the zones are ablated.



[1] Kuck, K.-H., Brugada, J., Fürnkranz, A., Metzner, A., Ouyang, F., Chun, K. R. J., … Tondo, C. (2016). Cryoballoon or Radiofrequency Ablation for Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation. New England Journal of Medicine, 374(23), 2235–2245.

[2] Calkins, H. (2015). Indications for catheter and surgical ablation of atrial fibrillation. In Practical Guide to Catheter Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation (pp. 1–6). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

[3] Lee, D., & Linker, N. J. (2014). Electrophysiology study in patients with tachycardia. British Journal of Cardiac Nursing, 9(1), 25–29.

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