Valley Heart & Vascular Institute - How Hybrid Ablation Is Performed

How Hybrid Ablation is Performed

A hybrid ablation procedure is a new minimally invasive treatment option for patients with persistent or difficult-to-treat atrial fibrillation (AFib), a heart rhythm disorder marked by a quivering or irregular heartbeat. The procedure is performed in The Valley Hospital’s electrophysiology lab, not in an operating room, by a cardiac surgeon and electrophysiologist.

After the patient is anesthetized, the cardiac surgeon and the electrophysiologist performing the procedure work together to ablate the areas within the heart that are most commonly responsible for the initiation and maintenance of AFib. To do this, the cardiac surgeon passes a video-scope through minimally invasive abdominal incisions across the diaphragm to gain access to the back wall of the heart’s atrium. This area of the heart does not contribute much to the pumping action of the heart, but it is a key area of electrical activity when AFib becomes more persistent. This area is broadly treated with radiofrequency energy to render the area electrically “impotent.”

The electrophysiologist then threads a balloon-tipped catheter up to the inside of the heart from the femoral vein in the patient’s groin. The physicians use either radiofrequency (heat energy) or cryoenergy (freezing) to produce a series of lesions to block and disconnect the abnormal electrical signals around the pulmonary veins. Diagnostic testing confirms that abnormal electrical signals have been blocked.

Once the procedure is over, the patient is brought to the recovery room and then transferred to a room in the hospital’s cardiac intensive care unit for an overnight stay. The next day he/she is transferred to a cardiac step-down unit for a day or so until discharge.

The patient’s heart may go into normal rhythm as soon as the procedure is over. For others, it may take a few hours or days. Most patients are able to go back to work or their normal activities within two weeks. Patients usually remain on anti-coagulant medications for several months and return regularly for follow-up evaluations with their electrophysiologists.

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