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Understanding the Most Common Types of Cardiac Ablation Procedures

Cardiac ablation is a procedure used to treat arrhythmias and heart rhythm disorders by targeting and disrupting abnormal electrical pathways in the heart. Understanding the different types of cardiac ablation is crucial for both patients and healthcare providers in determining the most appropriate treatment approach.

Types of Cardiac Ablation

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA):

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses heat generated from radiofrequency energy to destroy abnormal heart tissue responsible for arrhythmias. It is commonly used to treat atrial fibrillation (AFib) and other types of arrhythmias. RFA has shown high success rates in restoring normal heart rhythm.


Cryoablation involves the use of extreme cold temperatures to create scar tissue and block abnormal electrical signals in the heart. This method is particularly effective in treating certain types of arrhythmias, offering a less invasive alternative to traditional surgical procedures.

Convergent Ablation

Convergent Ablation is a relatively new (2023 debut in Queensland) heart procedure for patients with persistent, long-standing or challenging Atrial Fibrillation. It involves a two-stage combination of surgical and catheter ablation treatments. It is performed on the patient in two phases, involving a multidisciplined team that includes both a cardiothoracic surgeon and a cardiac electrophysiologist working together. The cardiac electrophysiologist is working from the inside tissue of the heart, whereas the surgeon is approaching from outside of the heart. You can learn more about Convergent Ablations here

Pulsed-Field Ablation

Pulsed-Field ablation systems offer a non-thermal (not caused by changes in heat) and tissue selective approach to cardiac ablation. The energy is strong pulses of electromagnetic field which cause damage to heart muscle cell membranes. It is for the treatment of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation and addresses traditional thermal ablation limitations, which can include inadvertently damaging collateral tissues. It is designed for improved safety, efficacy, and procedural efficiency.

Comparison of Cardiac Ablation Procedures:

Each type of cardiac ablation procedure has its unique characteristics and applications. When comparing these procedures, factors such as effectiveness in treating various heart rhythm disorders, safety profiles, success rates, and their suitability for different patient populations should be considered.

Which Type of Ablation is Right for me?

These types of cardiac ablation procedures are commonly used in clinical practice for treating specific arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation (AFib), ventricular tachycardia (VT), atrial flutter, and Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome. Each procedure is tailored to the patient’s specific condition and needs.

Consulting with a healthcare provider is essential to determine the most suitable ablation approach based on individual patient needs.

Factors to consider and discuss with a Doctor may include:

  • Specific medical history and circumstances of the patient
  • The type of rhythm disorder being treated
  • The age and health condition of the patient
  • The skills and preferences of the patient’s Electrophysiologist
  • The facilities, equipment and technology available at the doctor’s hospital
  • The location of the patient generally (for example, Australian cardiologists’ preferences in the Australian private health system, compared to the procedure performed in other countries).