Doctors at Max Hospital have treated a 53-year-old male patient suffering from an irregular heartbeat condition using a new and distinct approach called balloon cryoablation.
The term cryoablation is formed of two words ‘cryo’ meaning cold and ‘ablation’ meaning removal or destruction. Balloon cryoablation is a minimally invasive procedure which helps in restoring regular heartbeat by disrupting the abnormal electrical pathways within the heart that cause arrythmia.
The technology, which is used by several medical practitioners worldwide, and has been used for the first time in India, claimed the hospital, in a statement on Monday.
The patient was presented to the doctors with recurrent palpitations because of the arrhythmia or atrial fibrillation (AF).
An irregular heartbeat happens when the nerves in the heart misfire. Over time it can lead to blood pooling and clotting inside the heart, which can trigger a life-threatening stroke, or cause debilitating palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath and tiredness.
As a result, such patients are usually prescribed blood thinning medicines to reduce these risk. They may also be given medication to control or regulate their heart rate. Sometimes they are advised surgery. A surgery to insert a pacemaker is often conducted as well.
But doctors at Max Hospital Saket used a super cooled cryo balloon, which was inflated around the tissue causing AF. The procedure uses the low temperature balloon to freeze/deactivate the electrical activity of the tissues which cause arrythmia.
For the procedure, the patient was given a general or local anaesthetic. The doctors then inserted a balloon catheter into a blood vessel, which is usually in the upper leg, which is then directed to the heart using advanced imaging techniques.
“The tube has an inflatable balloon on one end, and when it reaches the opening of the pulmonary vein, extreme cold energy flows through the catheter to destroy abnormal electrical pathways (by freezing or deactivating it) and restore a healthy heart rhythm,” said Dr Balbir Singh, Chairman of Cardiology Pan Max, who conducted the procedure, in the statement.
“Pulmonary vein isolation is the foundation of atrial fibrillation and is effective for preventing arrhythmias recurrences. During the past few years, cryoablation has emerged as an effective procedure in treating arrythmia,” added Singh, a Padma Shri recipient.
Singh futher explained that the procedure is minimally invasive. It is also painless and completely safe as specialists who are experts in the heart’s electrical activity undertake these procedures. The treatment for arrhythmia itself is of a permanent nature wherein most patients do not require follow-up medicines. The chances of recurrence are also low, he said.
“Post treatment, the patient recovered swiftly. He has been discharged from the hospital and has resumed normal outdoor activities like earlier,” Singh said.