What is it?
Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia and is caused by the conduction of irregular impulses to the ventricles that generate the heartbeat. This causes the upper chambers of the heart (atria) to quiver (fibrillate).
Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that can treat atrial fibrillation if medication management and lifestyle changes are not relieving symptoms. The procedure is completed in the electrophysiology laboratory. Light sedation is offered and a local anesthetic is used to numb the catheter insertion site, usually the groin, neck or arm. Using advanced imaging techniques, an ablation catheter is then threaded through the blood vessels leading to the heart. Sometimes a transseptal catheterization technique is used to access the left atrium of the heart. The abnormal heart tissue causing the condition is then destroyed (ablated) using one of two mechanisms:
Radiofrequency ablation, in which heat energy is used to destroy the atrioventricular node facilitating passing of electrical impulses between the heart's upper chambers (atria) and lower chambers (ventricles). This then requires implantation of a permanent pacemaker to regulate the heart rhythm. Loyola specialists are the first in the Chicago area able to perform magnetically guided catheter ablation.
Cryoablation, in which extreme cold is used to destroy the abnormal heart tissue causing atrial fibrillation. This alternative to radiofrequency ablation is a newer ablation technique that uses compressed nitrogen that circulates through the catheter.
The Loyola difference
Loyola's team of expert electrophysiologists, advanced practice nurses, pacemaker clinic nursing staff, imaging experts and other professionals works together to manage the diagnosis and treatment of heart arrhythmias. We offer expertise in cardiac device management, including device implantation, lead extractions and medical management. Our state-of-the-art equipment allows physicians to use leading-edge technologies to perform procedures.
Loyola is a nationally recognized leader in cardiac care. U.S. News & World Report ranked us 18th in the nation for cardiology and heart surgery in 2012, making this our 10th year in the top 50.
Learn more about our performance outcomes.