Cryoablation

There are a number of reasons why, as a patient undergoing ablation treatment for an arrhythmia, you might choose cryoablation over radiofrequency (RF) ablation:

Less discomfort

Cold is one of nature’s anesthetics; accordingly, cryoablation results in little or no discomfort or pain during the procedure.

Greater stability

When cold temperatures are applied, cryocatheters stick to the tissue they touch, much like a tongue on cold metal. This is an advantage because ablation is performed in a beating heart where there is constant movement. By sticking to the exact spot to be ablated, the electrophysiologist can avoid any accidental slips of the catheter tip, thereby preventing accidental damage to critical structures nearby.

Ability to confirm target ablation site

Cryoablation allows the electrophysiologist to slightly freeze tissue to test whether it is responsible for conducting an arrhythmia. Heat-based therapies don’t allow that – once the tissue is burned, it stays burned. By contrast, cryoablation allows the electrophysiologist to re-warm frozen tissue (that is not responsible for the arrhythmia) and restore its normal electrical function.

Minimizes the risk of damaging critical structures

Treating arrhythmias with ablation involves working very close to critical structures, for example, the heart’s natural pacemakers, the esophagus or coronary arteries. Damage to critical structures can result in the permanent interruption of normal electrical conduction in the heart and require the placement of an artificial pacemaker in the patient – an outcome everyone absolutely wants to avoid. With cryoablation – which freezes tissue instead of burning it – the risk of damage to these critical structures is minimized.

Minimizes the risk of perforation

Perforation – for example, to the atrial wall – is a dangerous risk that can lead to serious complications. Thanks to its ability to preserve tissue integrity, there is minimal risk of perforation with cryoablation.

No crust formation

Heat burns. Burns can cause a crust to form over the affected tissue; this is known as thrombus in medical terms. The crust may fall off and lodge in a blood vessel, causing a blood clot which can lead to stroke. With cryoablation, this risk is minimized.