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Surgical Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation

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Open-Heart Surgical Ablation

Open-heart surgical ablation has been proven effective for a wide range of atrial fibrillation patients, even some with chronic atrial fibrillation. It is an invasive procedure, requiring open-heart surgery and often a heart-lung bypass. Because of this, open-heart surgical ablation is almost always performed concomitantly with another procedure that requires the chest be opened.

During the procedure, the surgeon uses a controlled energy source, such as radio frequency, to create the necessary scars (ablations) that block the abnormal electrical impulses causing atrial fibrillation. Additionally, most surgeons remove or close off a small pouch on the heart (the left atrial appendage), believed to be the primary site where stroke-causing blood clots form during atrial fibrillation.
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Minimally Invasive Surgical Ablation

In recent years, surgeons have developed a minimally invasive surgical approach that does not require opening the chest. Instead, the surgeon makes small incisions on the side of the chest and then uses a tiny camera and video-guided instruments to reach the heart. This approach also allows the surgeon to operate on the beating heart, avoiding the need for a heart-lung bypass.

Like the open surgical procedure, an energy source is used to create lines of ablation to isolate the pulmonary veins. Again, many surgeons will remove or close off the left atrial appendage in order to reduce the risk of stroke.

Minimally invasive surgical ablation allows for a shorter hospital stay and a quicker return to normal activity. Heart Rhythm Society guidelines suggest this option be considered for symptomatic atrial fibrillation patients who prefer a surgical approach and for those who have failed medications or a catheter ablation.

If your physician would like to refer you for a consultation or you would like to make an appointment to speak with us concerning the treatment options available to you in our Atrial Fibrillation Center please call (201) 996-2997.

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