Cryoballoon device treats patients with atrial fibrillation

1 min read

Technology developed to treat patients with atrial fibrillation has been used for the first time in Canada.

Recently licensed by Health Canada, the device is a balloon inserted by catheter that uses cryoablation to remove malfunctioning heart tissue.

On 4 September 2012, Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) cardiologists Dr Marc Dubuc and Dr Peter Guerra performed the procedure in a 67-year-old female patient.

According to a statement, the patient had been suffering from arrhythmia for a number of years and drug-based treatments had proved ineffective. The patient is said to have tolerated the procedure well and was able to return home 24 hours after the procedure.

‘This cryoballoon is a major milestone in the treatment of atrial fibrillation, as the duration of the procedure is reduced and it is both effective and safe for patients,’ said Dubuc.

The technology, developed by Montreal-based Medtronic CryoCath, a division of Medtronic, was approved for use in the US in December 2010.

In use, the Arctic Front Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter (Cryoballoon) treatment involves a minimally invasive procedure that creates circumferential lesions around the pulmonary vein, which is the source of erratic electrical signals that cause the irregular heartbeat.

According to Medtronic, balloon-based technology is novel because it ablates or blocks the conduction of atrial fibrillation in cardiac tissue through the use of a coolant rather than heat, which is delivered through a catheter.

This freezing technology allows the catheter to adhere to the tissue during ablation, allowing for greater catheter stability.

A North American study has found that 69.9 per cent of patients treated with this type of device no longer suffered from atrial fibrillation after one year, compared with 7.3 per cent of those taking medication alone.