Catheter ablation is a well-established procedure for treating abnormal heart rhythms. Various energy sources may be used in catheter ablation. Traditionally, heat in the form of radiofrequency waves has been applied to heart tissue to treat arrhythmias. An alternative is to use cold energy to achieve the same result. This technique is known as cryoablation.
Treating arrhythmias may involve working in close proximity to critical structures in the heart, for example, the sinus node (the heart’s natural pacemaker), and the atrioventricular node (which transmits the impulse from the top to the bottom of the heart). Damage to these structures can result in slow heart rate requiring the placement of an artificial pacemaker in the person, which is a result that doctors want to avoid.
To find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of RF and cryoablation, see the section RF vs. cryo.