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Winthrop-University Hospital Offers Long Island’s First CryoAblation Technology to Treat Common Form of Atrial Fibrillation - Archived
February 14, 2012

Physicians at Winthrop-University Hospital are the first on Long Island offering the Arctic Front® Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter system, the first and only cryoballoon in the United States indicated to treat certain cases of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF), a serious heart rhythm disorder that affects millions of Americans. PAF is a type of atrial fibrillation in which irregular heartbeats in the upper chambers start and stop suddenly on their own, usually for minutes or days at a time.

Recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the innovative cryoballoon treatment involves a minimally-invasive procedure that efficiently scars or kills the tissue that is causing the erratic electrical signals that lead to the irregular heartbeat.  Winthrop physicians have been utilizing cryoablation since October 2011 and have performed over 20 procedures to-date.

Unlike traditional ablation treatments that use radiofrequency, or heat, to destroy faulty electrical circuits in the heart, the balloon-based technology of Arctic Front is novel because it dissolves cardiac tissue through the use of a coolant rather than heat, which is delivered through a catheter. This freezing technology allows the catheter to adhere to the tissue during ablation, allowing for more uniform coverage.

 “The value of the new cryoablation technology over existing ablation methods is that it enables physicians to safely and effectively isolate the pulmonary veins via a simple, efficient approach,” said Todd Cohen, MD, Director of Electrophysiology and the Pacemaker/Arrhythmia Center at Winthrop. “This minimally invasive procedure, in which a catheter is inserted via a vein in the groin and then passed up to the heart without open heart surgery, gives patients peace-of-mind that their heart may be restored to an appropriate rhythm and they can resume their normal, daily activity following the treatment.”

“Conceptually, this novel technology combines various current techniques that sometimes require numerous applications of radiofrequency energy, into a single, more extensive method of treating atrial fibrillation. Our hope is that this procedure brings us that much closer to a “cure” for atrial fibrillation,” said Joseph Germano, DO, Associate Director of Electrophysiology and Director of the Atrial Fibrillation Center at Winthrop.

 “We are hopeful that cryoablation will prove to be a more durable procedure than radio frequency ablation, which uses heat to wear away the tissue causing damage, and that it will cure more patients the first time around,” added Jeffrey Snow, MD, Electrophysiologist at Winthrop.

The other member of the team currently performing cryoablation at Winthrop is Sameer Parekh, MD, Electrophysiologist.

According to the STOP-AF (Sustained Treatment of Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation) trial, which served as the basis for FDA approval, 69.9 percent of patients treated with Arctic Front achieved treatment success at 12 months, compared to 7.3 percent of patients treated with drug therapy only. The study also demonstrated that treatment with the device is safe, with limited procedure-related adverse events (3.1 percent), and a reduction in adverse events caused by atrial fibrillation when compared to drug therapy. Additionally, patients treated with Arctic Front displayed a significant reduction of symptoms, a decrease in the use of drug therapy and substantial improvements in both physical and mental quality-of-life factors.

About the Arctic Front Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter System

The Arctic Front Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter System is designed to be used with fluoroscopy – an x-ray with a fluorescent screen – and does not require the use of complex, three-dimensional mapping systems. The technologies offered in the system include:

  • The Arctic Front Cryoballoon, which inflates and fills with coolant to ablate the tissue where the pulmonary veins enter the left atrium;
  • The FlexCath® Steerable Sheath, which helps deliver and position the cryocatheter in the left atrium;
  • The Freezor® MAX Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter, which is a single-point catheter used to provide additional ablations, as needed; and
  • The CryoConsole, which houses the coolant, electrical and mechanical components that run the catheters during a cryoablation procedure.

About Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is the most common and one of the most undertreated heart rhythm disorders in America. Approximately 3 million Americans are estimated to have the disease, and about 40 percent don’t exhibit symptoms and may be under-diagnosed.

Half of all diagnosed atrial fibrillation patients fail drug therapy[i], and if left untreated patients have up to a five times higher risk of stroke[ii] and an increased chance of developing heart failure. Additionally, since atrial fibrillation is often age-related, as the U.S. population continues to grow older, the need for more effective treatment options is escalating.

The Pacemaker/Arrhythmia Center at Winthrop-University Hospital is a state-of-the-art facility that offers cutting- edge services with highly skilled clinical cardiac electrophysiologists who specialize in the entire range of heart rhythm diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. The Center offers both inpatient and outpatient services. For more information about treatment for atrial fibrillation at Winthrop, call 1-866-WINTHROP.

[i] JAMA 2001; 285:2370-5.

[ii] Fuster et al. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2006; 48:854-906.

Contact: Carolann Martines
Associate Writer
(516) 663-2234
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Arctic Front® Cryoballoon