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Frequently Asked Questions

What is cryoablation?

Cryoablations is a minimally-invasive, FDA-approved cold therapy treatment for atrial fibrillation (AF), which is an irregular or erratic heartbeat. This new and minimally-invasive procedure allows an electrophysiologist to disable the heart cells that cause AF and restore the heart to a normal rhythm.

How does it work?

While heat-based ablation methods use radiofrequency energy to disable arrhythmia-causing heart cells, cryoablation uses a thin, flexible tube called a balloon catheter to freeze the heart tissue instead. The primary advantage of using cold instead of heat is that the doctors can cool tissue enough to determine if they have disabled the correct cells before permanently freezing them. If the wrong cells were disabled at cooling, then the doctors simply allow the tissue to warm back up. This process is not possible with heat ablation.

During cryoablation, an electrophysiologist inserts a balloon catheter into a blood vessel in the upper leg and threads it through the body until it reaches the heart. Once the catheter reaches the portion of the heart that opens to the pulmonary vein, the doctor activates the balloon, allowing extreme cold energy to flow through the catheter and destroy the small amount of heart tissue that causes the erratic electrical signals. The heart is now able to return to a healthy rhythm. What should I expect after the procedure? Following your procedure, you will be moved to a recovery area to rest and your heart and blood pressure will be continuously monitored to check for any complications. Depending on your condition, you may need to stay at the hospital for a time or you may be able to go home the same day. You may feel a little soreness after the procedure, but that should clear up in less than a week, allowing you to return to your normal activities.

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