Heart specialists at the Heart Center at St. Mark’s are the first in Utah and among only a few nationwide to collaborate in order to help patients with persistent, long-standing atrial fibrillation. They combined their skills and experience to offer an innovative option for people with the most difficult to treat AFib. Called hybrid ablation, this minimally invasive procedure involves a surgical ablation and a catheter ablation performed over the course of a few days – during one hospitalization. This advanced approach effectively restores the heart’s normal rhythm, often when other types of treatment have failed.

How it works:

In what could be considered as a best-of-both-worlds approach, this unique team collaborates to conduct two procedures.

  • The cardiovascular surgeon performs a series of ablations (small, controlled burns) on the outside of the heart through 3-4 small incisions on each side of the patient’s chest. The ablations block the storm of chaotic electrical signals related to A-fib, keeping them from disrupting the heart’s rhythm. The left atrial appendage is also removed to lower the patient’s stroke risk.
  • Three days later, the cardiac electrophysiologist utilizes heart mapping technology to identify more errant electrical signals. He then applies catheter ablations to areas that could not be completed on the outside surface.
  • This two-step process creates a scar that goes completely through the heart tissue, which more permanently blocks misfiring electrical signals.
  • A key advantage to this advanced AFib procedure is the electrophysiologist’s ability to confirm that the errant signals have been successfully interrupted.

Patient Benefits

  • Provides a treatment option for patients who fit the following criteria:
    • Chronic, continuous or difficult to treat atrial fibrillation
    • Other AFib treatments and ablations have not been successful
  • Integrated patient care provided by AFib specialists with complimentary expertise
  • Faster and less invasive option; external and internal ablations performed sequentially during one general anesthesia session
  • Combined approach reduces overall procedure times
  • Fewer hospital stays and quick recoveries

The collaborative hybrid ablation procedure is significantly improving the lives of patients challenged with AFib that has not responded well to other treatments. The majority of them can stop taking blood thinners and enjoy life without AFib after undergoing these advanced procedures.

The heart specialists at the Heart Center at Heart Center at St. Mark’s were also first in the state to pioneer the advanced convergent ablation procedure for AFib in 2016. That minimally invasive procedure also combines surgical ablations on the outside of the heart and a catheter ablation – this time during one advanced procedure.

When it comes to long-standing, persistent AFib, heart specialists must weigh the invasiveness of the treatment against its efficacy and select the best option for each individual.

If you think a hybrid ablation might be right for you, please call (855) 413-7829.