Bridgeport Hospital uses ‘cool’ new technology to treat a-fib

Tuesday, August 16, 2016
The balloon-tipped Medtronic Arctic Front cryoablation catheter is threaded through a pulmonary vein where electrical signals originate. The balloon releases a coolant to stop the erratic signals that cause a-fib.

On Aug. 9, the Joel E. Smilow Heart Institute at Bridgeport Hospital performed Yale New Haven Health's first cardiac cryoablation to treat atrial fibrillation (a-fib), the most common type of heart rhythm disorder.

The patient is an active woman in her 60s with significant a-fib symptoms. She was discharged the following morning.

Cardiac electrophysiologist Murali Chiravuri, MD, led the team that conducted the procedure, using the minimally invasive Medtronic Arctic Front Advance system. This innovative system uses coolant (liquid nitrogen), rather than heat as in traditional radiofrequency ablation (RFA) procedures, to isolate the pulmonary veins where electrical signals originate and stop the erratic signals that cause a-fib.

Arctic Front is an entirely closed system so no liquid nitrogen makes any contact with the heart. Only the balloon tip of a catheter comes in contact with tissue.

Cryoablation has been shown to be more effective in patients for whom drug therapy has failed. In addition, the procedure time is drastically shorter compared to RFA. This allows more patients to tolerate anesthesia.

"By treating patients with the most advanced technology, we are better able to manage their atrial fibrillation to improve their overall quality of life and significantly reduce a-fib symptoms, including palpitations, fatigue, rapid heartbeat, swelling and fainting," said Dr. Chiravuri.

"Not only is a-fib the most common heart rhythm disorder, it is also often undertreated because many patients and providers are unaware of therapeutic options such as cryoablation," Dr. Chiravuri added. "A-fib patients have up to five times higher risk of stroke and an increased chance of developing heart failure."

Bridgeport Hospital, part of Yale New Haven Health, is a non-profit 501-bed acute care hospital with two campuses (plus 42 beds licensed to Yale New Haven Children's Hospital). Its Bridgeport and Milford Campuses serve patients from across the region. The hospital admits more than 23,000 patients and provides nearly 350,000 outpatient treatments annually. The Connecticut Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital is the only burn center in the state and one of only 64 verified burn centers in the United States. Bridgeport Hospital is committed to providing safe, compassionate and cost efficient care to its patients and the community.