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What is hybrid atrial fibrillation ablation?

Hybrid atrial fibrillation (A-fib) ablation combines minimally invasive surgery and a catheter-based approach to block or “ablate” the irregular rhythm by the use of epicardial and endocardial catheters by freezing and cauterizing the heart muscle on the areas from which A-fib typically arises.

Why it's done

Hybrid A-fib ablation surgery at The Heart Institute is a significant advancement in the treatment of atrial fibrillation. It is particularly effective because it addresses a specific problem in a precise area of the heart that is responsible for electrical activity. Every aspect of the minimally invasive procedure — from the instruments and videoscopes to the balloon-tipped catheter — is combined to eliminate A-fib and restore your vitality.

Who it's for

This new, minimally invasive procedure is offered to patients with persistent or hard-to-treat A-fib. The procedure is performed by our team of surgeons, electrophysiologists and support personnel within the surgical hybrid suite.

Our approach

The very first hybrid A-fib ablation in New York City was performed at The Heart Institute (THI) by our skilled and collaborative heart team. This advanced minimally invasive surgical procedure to correct chronic or intractable A-fib is a major step forward in helping patients to overcome this often hard-to-control cardiac disorder.

Risks

With just three tiny incisions in your abdomen, hybrid atrial fibrillation ablation is much less invasive than standard open-heart surgery. Your heart continues to beat during the procedure. A heart-lung bypass machine is not needed. Patients usually go home within 48 hours of the procedure. The reduced recovery time allows most patients to get back to their normal routine within a few days.

What to expect

You will be placed under anesthesia before the cardiac surgery team begins to ablate the region of your heart responsible for A-fib. The surgeon then will make tiny incisions in your abdomen and  uses a videoscope that is passed through the incisions to gain access to the affected area of your heart. It is then treated with radiofrequency energy that essentially shuts down the abnormal impulses in that section of the heart. Subsequently, the electrophysiologist uses a balloon-tipped catheter, inserted via the blood vessels of your groin to ablate additional areas from inside the heart.

Recovery

Following hybrid atrial fibrillation ablation, you will be brought to The Heart Institute's cardiac intensive care unit, where you will be closely monitored. Most patients can leave within 48 hours and return to normal life in a matter of a week or two. Patients typically remain on anticoagulant medication for several weeks following the procedure.

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