Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation Ablation

Here, we run you through the purposes and methods of Atrial Fibrillation ablation, the Atrial Fibrillation ablation procedure risks, and inform you of the varying aspects of the Atrial Fibrillation ablation recovery period. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in contact with The Keyhole Heart Clinic.

What is Atrial Fibrillation ablation?

Atrial Fibrillation is thought to arise from one or more of the pulmonary veins leading to an uncoordinated rapid contraction of the heart - Atrial Fibrillation ablation is a procedure used to treat the issue.

The objective of any form of Atrial Fibrillation ablation therapy is to electrically isolate the pulmonary veins from the rest of the heart in an attempt to prevent these haphazard stimuli.

Catheter ablation for the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation:

This treatment involves the advancement of catheters into the heart via the groin vessels. These catheters are placed at the orifices of the pulmonary veins and can detect abnormal electrical activity in these zones. Any detected abnormal activity can be destroyed with radiofrequency heat energy or cryotherapy cooling energy. This treatment is only really effective in patients with Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation.

The immediate result can be very good. However, recurrence occurs in as many as 30% of patients within one year and repeat therapies may be required. Something to bear in mind is that catheter ablation is not an effective therapy for permanent Atrial Fibrillation. When the rate of atrial fibrillation cannot be controlled with drugs a different strategy is sometimes used where the conduction system that connects the fast beating atrial chambers (the AV node) can be disconnected from the big muscular ventricles. The heart rate must be restored using a permanent pacemaker, but the efficiency of the heart cannot be restored using this therapy. This is called AV node ablation and is generally not recommended without first considering a surgical strategy for Atrial Fibrillation ablation.

Surgical treatment of Atrial Fibrillation (Maze procedure)

Pulmonary vein isolation for the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation is a very effective therapy. In patients with Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation, Keyhole Atrial Fibrillation ablation can be performed. Clinicians are beginning to realize that when catheter-based therapies fail to control Atrial Fibrillation in its early phase, surgical ablation should be offered.Pulmonary vein isolation for the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation is a very effective therapy. In patients with Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation, Keyhole Atrial Fibrillation ablation can be performed. Clinicians are beginning to realize that when catheter based therapies fail to control Atrial Fibrillation in its early phase, surgical ablation should be offered.

In more advanced disease where Atrial Fibrillation can become permanent, surgical therapies have been shown to be very effective in experienced hands and should be considered in suitable patients. Patients undergoing any form of heart surgery should be considered for concomitant surgical Atrial Fibrillation ablation.

Stand-alone surgery (i.e. Atrial Fibrillation ablation only) should be considered for symptomatic patients who prefer a surgical approach, have failed one or more attempts at catheter ablation, or are not candidates for catheter ablation.

What are the Atrial Fibrillation ablation procedure risks?

Like with any surgery, there are of course some risks. These can vary, from small issues – such as bleeding around where the surgical site or where the catheter was inserted – to more serious issues, such as a stroke or heart attack. While the Atrial Fibrillation ablation procedure risks are small when completed in the hands of professionals, we would still highly recommend talking to your doctor before undertaking the surgery about any Atrial Fibrillation ablation procedure risks, so that you can fully understand the risks and benefits before committing to the surgery.

What is the Atrial Fibrillation ablation recovery period like?

The Atrial Fibrillation ablation recovery period is very manageable and shouldn’t be too inconvenient for you. If you opt for a catheter ablation for Atrial Fibrillation, you will rest quietly for a few hours before you are allowed to return home, and usually you can return home on the same day. You may feel slightly sore, but you can usually return to work and your daily activities within a few days.

If you have the Surgical Maze procedure performed by keyhole heart surgery, your recovery time will still be very quick but the results will be far better than catheter ablation. When discussing your options with your doctor, they will warn you about all aspects of the Atrial Fibrillation ablation recovery period. If you have any questions about any kind of heart surgery - or want to chat to one of our friendly team - please feel free to get in touch and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

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