Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common irregular heart rhythm disorder. If the atria of the heart beats rapidly and irregularly, blood does not flow through the heart as quickly, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The irregular heartbeat makes the blood more likely to clot, and if the clot leaves the heart, it can travel to the brain and cause a stroke or to the coronary arteries and cause a heart attack.
There are several ways to treat AFib, including various medications, procedures such as electrical cardioversion and pulmonary vein ablation, and devices like pacemakers and left atrial appendage occluders.
Ablation procedures introduce a catheter into the left side of the heart and create circles of scar tissue around the pulmonary veins to isolate the veins from the rest of the atrium. The most common catheter-based technology in treating AFib is radiofrequency (RF) ablation, Jerry Melsky, VP of engineering at CardioFocus, told Medical Design & Outsourcing. In RF procedures, the physician typically repositions the catheter each time to make a lesion. The doctor may need to circle the pulmonary vein to make 50 to 100 lesions.
An alternative method is endoscopic laser ablation. In balloon technologies, the balloon goes in the vein, and once it’s stable, the physician can manipulate its energy source to make circles of lesions in as little as three minutes.