catheter ablation or balloon cryoablation?

I am seeing my GP next with a view to a referral back to cardiologist as I am looking at if I could have a catheter ablation. In doing some research I came across balloon cryoablation which appears far better, more likely to succeed even though I accept every has risks.

Just wondered if anyone had had one or what views they may have.

I have Permanent atrial fibrillation so this may be something for me to consider.

Any comments appreciated



2 Replies

  • Please go to AF Association main website and read the booklet on ablation as you need to fully understand the differences but I will try to explain.

    Catheter ablation describes the process of accessing the internals of the heart by threading a fine tube into a vein and feeding it into the heart.

    Now comes the difference. Cryo balloon ablation uses a small balloon which is positioned at the entrances to the four pulmonary veins and a freezing gas introduced which freeze burns the area. Because the balloon can in many case form a good joint with the entrance the scar formed can be reasonably consistent.. It is the scar tissue which eventually forms which blocks the rogue impulses

    RF ablation uses the same system of access but uses radio frequency energy to cause a hot burn but the tip of the catheter is small so a series of dots is made to isolate the veins.

    OK so you may well think that cryo is better and for sure it is quicker and easier for both the EP and patient but if there are areas other than the four pulmonary veins at work then it is not possible for those areas to be ablated. In such cases a follow up RF ablation may be considered. If a patient is in persistent AF then it is reasonable to expect that other areas of the atrium are active so cryo may not be the method of choice.

    I do hope that explains things a little but do go and read up the booklet as I am not a medic.


  • I had a cryoablation last week and if you check my earlier posts, you will see one about the experience. Bob's comments are, of course right, however, in my case, the EP had difficulty using the baloon on one of my pulmonary veins. From what I understand, he did some "touching up" by freezing using the tip of a catheter. I can only suggest you follow Bob's advice and arm yourself with as many questions as possible for the EP then I am sure together, you will make the right decision on how to move forward.

    Best wishes,


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