Cardiac ablation is a minimally-invasive procedure used to treat arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat.

Ablation is a medical term that means the removal or destruction of tissue. In cardiac ablation, a cardiologist treats targeted areas of the heart with extreme heat, cold or laser energy in order to create scar tissue. Electrical currents cannot pass through scar tissue, so the electrical signals causing the irregular heartbeat will be blocked and the normal electrical impulses of the heart will be restored.

German hospitals in the Premier Healthcare network are especially experts in cryoablation, which uses extreme cold to ablate the tissue. Cryoablation is the most modern cardiac ablation technology available.

Treating an irregular heartbeat

A strong, healthy heart beats regularly from around 60 to 100 beats per minute to drive the circulation of blood throughout the body. A variety of conditions, however, can disturb this rhythm, resulting in arrhythmia. Ablation can be used to treat a number of cardiac arrhythmias, though it is most commonly used for atrial fibrillation, or when the heart’s upper chambers fail to contract properly.

What types of ablation are there?

Cardiac ablation is a minimally-invasive, catheter-assisted heart procedure, meaning the doctor accesses the heart via a long, narrow tube inserted in another part of the body.

Many different technologies have been developed in order to facilitate the safe, targeted ablation of tissue via a catheter. They include heart-emitting energies, such as radiofrequency energy, microwave radiation, and lasers; and extremely cold materials, in which case the procedure is called cryoablation.

Cryoablation: high-tech treatment for atrial fibrillation

Cardiac cryoablation involves the use of a cryoballoon to create rings of ablated tissue around the damaged muscle that is causing the abnormal impulses. This complex procedure is still relatively new and is only available at a select few leading heart centers.

Cryoablation has a very good safety profile with a low risk of complications, and has been shown to have excellent outcomes in clinical trials. The treatment itself takes around two hours and if there are no complications, the patient can leave the hospital two days after the procedure.

Premier Healthcare Germany has a closer partnership with one of the leading cardiological clinics worldwide to perform catheter-assisted cardiac ablation using the Cryo-Balloon. Heart specialists at Asklepios Klinik St. Georg in Hamburg, Germany have been using cryoablation for ten years already and currently perform about 300 procedures per year, making St. Georg one of the most experienced centers worldwide with cryoablation.

Who can benefit from ablation?

Because ablation is a catheter-assisted, minimally-invasive procedure, even patients who are not candidates for other types of heart procedures may still benefit from this procedure. With minimally-invasive surgery, patients benefit from shorter procedure times, faster recovery times and lower rates of complications as compared to traditional open surgery. Complications include bleeding at the access site, nerve damage and damage to the heart muscle.

Additionally, cryoablation is only effective at treating atrial fibrillation (AFib), a specific type of arrhythmia. For other types of arrhythmias, radiofrequency or laser ablation may be a good option.

Premier Healthcare has an excellent record in providing international patients with access to top-quality German medical care. Our hospitals have experience working with international patients and we work together to provide patients a worry-free and comfortable experience when traveling for medical treatment. Contact us for more information on heart procedures to treat arrhythmia in Germany.