CryoBalloon Ablation: All EPS Are Not Equal (Part II)
Second in a two-part series by Steve S. Ryan, PhD
In Part I of this article, I shared my dismay at reading two O.R. reports of Cyroballoon Ablations that left me alarmed and disturbed. The first case was performed at one of the most prestigious A-Fib centers in New York City.
In each case, what’s alarming is what the EP didn’t do! The CryoBalloon ablation was less than the standard. The very minimum steps were taken.
Is Performing CryoBalloon Ablations Too Easy?
That relative ease has lead some EPs to cut corners. They just isolate the PVs without doing anything else—they don’t bother to identify where A-Fib signals (potentials) are coming from and they don’t try to induce A-Fib after the ablation.
Some EPs performing CryoBalloon ablations may not have a full skill set. Others may lack the motivation to hunt for non-PV triggers.
My fear: If this becomes a trend, I fear CryoBalloon may become a step backwards as a treatment for A-Fib patients. Could CryoBalloon Ablation turn into a second-tier or inherently inferior procedure?
Choosing an EP for a Cryoballoon Ablations
Are you considering a catheter ablation (RF or Cyro)? Before selecting your electrophysiologist (EP), you must do your research and check their credentials and experience. For guidelines, see our Find the Right Doctor for You and Your A-Fib.
When choosing an EP for a Cyroballoon Ablation, you should research:
1. Are they certified in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology (CCE)?
2. Did they have a good track record doing RF ablation before they switched to CryoBalloon ablation?
3. Do they perform at least 25 ablations a year to maintain their proficiency?
4. Will this EP commit to pursue and ablate non-PV triggers?
Take Away: All EPS Are Not Equal
You don’t want an EP new to the field who is only doing CryoBalloon ablations because they are so much easier to do. EPs don’t all have the same training, skill level, and motivation. Indeed, many non-CCE certified EPs perform catheter ablations for A-Fib.
You want an EP with a proven track record in RF ablation who can call on those skills if needed to identify and ablate non-PV triggers. The EP should have established protocols for doing this and should be able to explain them to you. For example, something like this:
“If you are still in A-Fib after Cryoablation of the pulmonary veins, I will withdraw the CryoBalloon catheter and replace it with an RF catheter. I’ll identify the non-PV trigger spots, then isolate each with the RF catheter.”
All EPs are not equal. To become A-Fib-free, do your homework! Find the right EP for your Cyroballoon ablation.