Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia and is a significant burden to healthcare cost. AF causes congestive heart failure, thromboembolic events such as stroke and intolerable symptoms in some patients. With the advances and increasing experience in catheter ablation, there is now an established role for catheter ablation in patients with atrial fibrillation. The risks, complications and patient features associated with it are increasingly recognized. A recent worldwide survey has shown an increasing number of medical centers that are practicing catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation, predominantly with pulmonary vein isolation techniques. However, catheter ablation is an invasive therapy in AF and is associated with a few major complications. Patient selection, ablation technique, and catheter energy source all influence the efficacy and safety of the procedure. Finally, while several randomized control trials have compared the efficacy of catheter ablation versus antiarrhythmic drug therapy, a number of trials are on the horizon to explore its role as a first line therapy for atrial fibrillation. New catheter energy source are also being explored.
Credits: Richard Cheng MD; Melisa Chang, M.D.; Chee Yuan Ng, M.D.