I had cryo PVI yesterday morning and just wanted to share my experience, in the hope it will help others through the process and allay some fears.
But firstly I wanted to sincerely thank the contributors to this forum. Although I haven’t posted anything until now, I’ve been reading all the posts for the last few months and they have given me a great deal of support and information, so I can’t thank you enough. I don’t mind admitting that I had felt very fearful and nervous of having this procedure carried out.
So here’s my go at hopefully giving others some reassurance about the procedure itself. In general, I think the months of waiting is far worse than the day itself. From my initial GP referral (through Choose & Book) to the date of my procedure was about 8 months. I’ve had AF on and off for the past 8 years and it had started to become more persistent this last year, so it was decided PVI would be the best treatment for me. Up until that point I’d only been taking an aspirin/day and self-managing my symptoms, but as the AF became more persistent I had become exhausted. So approx. 10 weeks ago I started on warfarin in preparation for the PVI. At first the warfarin made me feel light headed but my body eventually adjusted to it and I managed to keep my INR level between 2 and 3 for the 4 weeks leading up to the procedure.
So yesterday was the day, and I’ll try and give as much info as possible.
I checked into the hospital at 9am and was taken to the ward. The EP consultant came to see me at 9:30am and advised that I was first in. He explained what he was going to do and what the risks were. I got into my gown, etc and had a cannula fitted in my hand. The anaesthetist then came for a quick chat with me and I walked with a nurse to the operating theatre. There were 7 people there (the main EP, an assistant EP, an anaesthetist, 2 nurses, and 2 technicians who were sat looking at computer screens). I was asked to lie down on the bed and a 2nd cannula was put into my other arm. The team were very friendly and joking with me to relax me and said I’d start to feel a bit drowsy. After about 5 seconds I was totally out (I had general anaesthetic).
The procedure lasted approx. 2 ½ hours. The TOE was inserted whilst I was under anaesthetic. As previously advised by the nursing staff, I woke up in ICU and remained there for about 4 hours, and later had some lunch and a drink. I didn’t feel any pain when I woke up, just a mild heavy feeling in my chest. My 4 pulmonary veins were isolated using the cryo balloon technique. The EP had explained previously that the entrance to the 4 veins would be individually frozen for 4 minutes (twice) to form scar tissue which would break the electrical pathway of the signals causing my arrhythmia.
I was then taken back to the general ward. It was such a relief to be in sinus rhythm again. I had a few ectopic beats per hour but I was told this was nothing to be concerned about. I stopped in overnight and had a mild headache and this slight heavy chest feeling throughout the night, but no other discomfort at all. No pain at all from the incision points in the groin.
At 5:30am I had my blood pressure and pulse checked. At 8:30am I had my breakfast and then at 9am I had my cannulas removed, had a wash etc, got dressed and got a lift home.
Now just taking it easy for a few days and see how it goes.
So to sum up, on the day you just go with the flow. You don’t have to do anything, you’re in great hands, and before you know what’s happening you’re in theatre and then you’re back in the ward and it’s all over.
I hope this info is of help to others currently waiting for their procedure, and many thanks again to all those who regularly contribute to this forum, as it has certainly helped me tremendously.
My follow-up with the EP is in 2 months, so fingers crossed I stay in rhythm