Getting your Heart back into Rhythm with Hybrid Ablation
For patients who have had symptomatic AFib* for over a year, and for whom medications and ablation did not work, Heritage Valley has an option. Our Electrophysiologists and Cardiothoracic Surgeons perform a procedure called Hybrid Ablation, which combines treatment of both the inside and outside of the heart to block abnormal electrical signals and restore normal heart rhythm.
Hybrid ablation is a minimally-invasive treatment that combines both surgical and catheter-based techniques. Since only a few small chest incisions are required for Hybrid Ablation, the risk of complications is significantly reduced when compared to traditional heart surgery. This procedure also lowers the risk of stroke by closing the part of the atrium where blood clots typically form. In addition, a successful Hybrid Ablation may help to improve your overall heart function and reduce the number of heart medications you need to take.
One step of a Hybrid Ablation involves surgery on the outside of the heart, called an Epicardial Ablation. A thoracoscope is inserted through small incisions on the chest to deliver radiofrequency electrical energy to create scar tissue at the precise spot on the outside of the heart that will block the transmission of the electrical signals causing the atrial fibrillation.
The second step, performed six to eight weeks before or after, is called an Endocardial Ablation and targets the AFib signals inside the heart. A small catheter is inserted through the groin and into the heart. The tip of the catheter delivers heat (Radiofrequency Ablation) to create scar tissue or freezes the tissue (Cryoablation) at the exact spot inside the heart to interrupt the AFib.
You may experience mild chest discomfort following the Epicardial Ablation, and typically you will remain in the hospital for two to three days so that the physicians and nursing staff can monitor your progress. Your medications may also be adjusted during this time. After the Endocardial Ablation, a one-night stay in the hospital is typical. You may be able to return to your normal routine after two weeks, depending on your progress. You may be instructed not to drive for a period of time after your procedure, and your physician will tell you when you can return to work.
So, if you have had persistent Atrial Fibrillation for more than one year and your AFib has not responded to medications or Catheter Ablation alone, please speak to your physician to see if Hybrid Ablation may be right for you.
* Symptoms of AFib may include irregular heartbeat, heart palpitations, lightheadedness, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath or chest pain.