Catheter Ablation

Catheter ablation is a nonsurgical treatment for irregular heartbeats, including atrial fibrillationthat locates and destroys the abnormal electrical pathways in the heart that cause irregular heartbeats. Each year, the cardiovascular team at Northwestern Medicine performs thousands of catheter ablations with a high rate of positive outcomes.

Two types of catheter ablation are available and your physician will help determine the appropriate treatment.

Radiofrequency catheter ablation

Radiofrequency catheter ablation offers many patients a cure for their irregular heartbeat. Imaging tests performed as part of the radiofrequency catheter ablation show areas of the heart that generate abnormal electrical signals—the cause of the irregular heartbeat.

During treatment, a small, flexible tube (or catheter) is inserted through veins in the groin, and directed to the areas in the heart generating the abnormal electrical signals causing the irregular heartbeat. Burning (or ablating) the abnormal pathways destroys the pathways’ ability to transmit the electrical signals that cause the irregular heartbeat.

Cryoballoon catheter ablation

Experts at Northwestern Medicine believe cryoballoon ablation offers a viable alternative to radiofrequency catheter ablation for some patients with irregular heartbeats. This newer treatment freezes abnormal electrical pathways in the heart instead of burning them as is done in radiofrequency catheter ablation. Research shows that 70 percent of patients treated with cryoballoon catheter ablation have no heart rhythm issues one year after the procedure.

Imaging tests performed as part of the cryoballoon ablation procedure show areas of the heart that generate abnormal electrical signals—the cause of the irregular heartbeat. During treatment, a small, flexible tube (or catheter) is inserted through veins in the groin, and directed to the areas in the heart generating the abnormal electrical signals causing the irregular heartbeat. Freezing the abnormal pathways destroys the pathways’ ability to transmit the electrical signals that cause the irregular heartbeat.




Locations Performing this Treatment