Cryoablation is one of three types of ablation therapy used to treat atrial fibrillation, a form of arrhythmia. Electrical impulses travel through the heart to regulate heartbeat. In cases of arrhythmia, these impulses stray from their intended paths, causing irregular, fast or slow heart rates. A minimally invasive procedure, cryoablation delivers sub-zero temperatures in the form of liquid oxygen or liquid carbon dioxide to precise areas within the atria (upper two chambers of the heart). Contact with these substances destroys specific cells. Once these cells are destroyed, scar tissue forms lesions that electrical impulses cannot pass through. As a result, the impulses are redirected through their intended pathways.
Cryoablation is delivered using a catheter – a thin, flexible tube – that is inserted in an artery in the groin and threaded up to the affected area of the heart.