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Atrial Fibrillation (Irregular Heartbeat)

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Treatment

Atrial fibrillation is often controlled with medication. However, if diagnostic tests determine you need a procedure to correct your irregular heartbeat, you'll get the care you need at Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Chrin Heart and Vascular Center. Our arrhythmia specialists perform more than 1,500 procedures every year. We provide these arrhythmia treatments: 

Ablation

During an ablation procedure, a thin, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel through a small incision. Using X-ray technology, a physician guides the catheter to the area of the heart that contains the tissue causing the irregular heartbeat. With the catheter in place, two different procedures can be performed to destroy the faulty tissue. Your doctor will determine which of these procedures is best for you:

  • Radiofrequency ablation – An electrode at the end of the catheter creates heat which is used to cauterize and destroy the tissue.
  • Balloon cryoablation – A balloon at the tip of the catheter is filled with liquid nitrous oxide which is used to freeze and destroy the tissue. We were the first hospital in the area and second in Pennsylvania to perform this procedure.

Cardioversion

During cardioversion, small paddles are used to deliver a small electrical shock to the heart through the chest wall. The shock restores your heart’s normal rhythm. Your heart and blood pressure are closely monitored during cardioversion.

Convergent procedure

The Convergent procedure uses extreme heat (radiofrequency) to produce scar tissue (lesions) on the heart to block abnormal electrical signals. During the procedure, a cardiothoracic surgeon and heart rhythm specialist (electrophysiologist) work as a team in a single setting. The surgeon creates lesions on the outside surface of a beating heart through a small incision in the abdomen. The electrophysiologist then threads a thin, flexible tube (catheter) through a vein in the groin to reach the heart and fills in any gaps in the lesion pattern. Diagnostic techniques confirm all abnormal electrical signals have been interrupted. This procedure is successful in 75-80 percent of patients with difficult-to-treat atrial fibrillation.   

FIRM ablation

During FIRM ablation, the flow of electricity within the heart is analyzed while the patient is in atrial fibrillation. This is achieved using a basket catheter, which is placed inside the heart to record the heart’s abnormal rhythm. Electrodes on the basket catheter locate areas of the heart – called anchor points or rotors – where the electrical signal stops moving forward and instead spins in a circle. A heart rhythm specialist (electrophysiologist) then uses extreme heat to produce scar tissue on the rotors and force the heart’s electrical signals to proceed in an orderly manner. FIRM ablation has an 80 percent success rate and helps people stay symptom-free for up to two years.

Maze procedure

The maze procedure involves making a series of surgical incisions in the heart’s upper chambers. These incisions then heal into scars that force the heart’s electrical signals to proceed in an orderly manner, restoring normal heart rhythm. The procedure has a high success rate, but because it requires open-heart surgery, it usually is reserved for people who do not respond to other arrhythmia treatments such as medications.

Minimaze procedure

During a minimize procedure, flexible instruments are inserted through incisions between the ribs. The instruments deliver radiofrequency energy to create scars in the upper chambers of the heart. These scars force the heart’s electrical signals to proceed in an orderly manner, restoring normal heart rhythm.  

Convergent Ablation Treats Robin Mathias’ Atrial Fibrillation

 



 

 

Next Step

For questions about cancer, call 610-402-CARE.

Make an Appointment

Get a Second Opinion

Need Help?

Call 888-402-LVHN (5846) Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Chat Online

Walk-In Care

If you have a minor illness, you can walk into an ExpressCare or schedule a video visit. For allergies, ear infections, cold and flu symptoms, rash and sprains.

Find an ExpressCARE Schedule a video visit

Schedule Online

Book the next available "new patient" appointment with the click of a button.

Schedule Now

How You Can Help Our Mission How You Can Help Our Mission

This is a non-profit organization. Please consider donating to help heal, comfort and care.

Learn more »