Palmetto Health Heart Hospital is the First Hospital in South Carolina to Offer Arctic Front® Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter system to Treat Common Form of Atrial Fibrillation


H. Wade Collins, MD

Palmetto Health Heart Hospital is the first hospital in South Carolina to offer the Arctic Front® Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter system to treat atrial fibrillation. The cryoballoon treatment, involves a minimally-invasive procedure that efficiently treats lesions around the pulmonary veins, which is the source of erratic electrical signals that cause irregular heartbeat. Atrial fibrillation is a serious heart rhythm disorder that affects millions of Americans.

"The value of the new cryoablation technology over existing ablation methods is that it enables physicians to safely and effectively isolate the pulmonary veins via a simple, efficient approach," said Dr. Wade Collins, a cardiologist with Columbia Heart. "This minimally invasive procedure gives patients peace-of-mind that their heart may be restored to an appropriate rhythm and they can resume their normal, daily activity following the treatment."

Clinical trials found that 70 percent of patients treated with the cryoballoon were free from A-fib after one year. Patients also experienced a significant decrease of symptoms, a decrease in medication and substantial improvements in both physical and mental quality of life.

Unlike traditional ablation treatments that use radiofrequency, or heat, to destroy faulty electrical circuits in the heart, the balloon-based technology of Arctic Front ablates cardiac tissue through the use of a coolant rather than heat, which is delivered through a catheter. Benefits include:

  • Less discomfort–Cryoablation results in little or no discomfort or pain during the procedure.
  • Greater stability and minimization of risk to damaging critical structures–As 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. This helps prevent accidental damage to critical structures nearby.
  • Ability to confirm target ablation site–Cryoablation allows for tissue to be slightly frozen to test whether it is responsible for causing 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 perforation–Because it preserves tissue integrity, there is minimal risk of perforation with cryoablation.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common and one of the most undertreated heart rhythm disorders in America. Approximately 3 million Americans are estimated to have the disease, and about 40 percent don't exhibit symptoms and may be under-diagnosed. Half of all diagnosed atrial fibrillation patients fail drug therapy, and if left untreated patients have up to a five times higher risk of stroke and an increased chance of developing heart failure. Additionally, since atrial fibrillation is often age-related, as the U.S. population continues to grow older, the need for more effective treatment options is escalating.

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