What procedures are used to treat atrial fibrillation?

Dr. Mark B. Lampert, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Chronic atrial fibrillation can be treated with surgery but it is often a last resort. Learn more from Dr. Mark Lampert on behalf of NorthShore University HealthSystem about chronic atrial fibrillation.

The procedures to treat atrial fibrillation include electrical cardioversion, catheter ablation, pulmonary-vein antrum isolation, and ablation of the AV node.

Not all people with chronic atrial fibrillation benefit from cardioversion. Some people's hearts cannot be reset to a normal rhythm.

A surgical option that might be appropriate for them is atrioventricular (AV) node ablation, a procedure that destroys the tissue in the node. After AV node ablation, electrical signals sent by the atria can no longer reach the ventricles, and a pacemaker is required in order to control the heart's rhythm. Blood-thinning drugs must be taken to reduce the risk of blood clots.

In some cases, your doctor can treat the abnormal heart cells that are causing atrial fibrillation through cath lab and surgical procedures.

In an ablation, a catheter (small, flexible tube) is threaded through a blood vessel to your heart. A device on the catheter is used to make a tiny scar so the abnormal cells can't send faulty signals.

A maze procedure creates scar tissue to keep abnormal electrical impulses from traveling through your heart. This procedure is done in open-heart surgery.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.