Treating AFib with AV Node Ablation
AV Node Ablation: One AFib ablation procedure that has been done for years, but is much less commonly done today, is AV node ablation (also sometimes called an AV junctional ablation).
What is the AV node and what does this treatment measure do?
The atrioventricular (AV) node sends electrical signals from the upper to the lower chambers of the heart. In this procedure, the AV node is frozen or cauterized to stop electrical signals from being transmitted to the lower chambers and a permanent pacemaker is implanted to control the heart's electrical system.
What are the expected results from an AV Node Ablation?
- It is important to understand that an AV node ablation will not stop the heart palpitations and the patient may continue to notice atrial fibrillation. It also will not restore a normal sinus rhythm. Instead, this type of ablation keeps the erratic electrical impulses that occur in the upper chamber, or atrium, from controlling the contraction rate in the lower chamber, or ventricle. After the procedure, the overall contraction rhythm will be managed by the pacemaker.
- Once completed, some patients no longer feel the fibrillation in the atrium, but many still do. Because the AFib isn’t stopped in this procedure, the patient must stay on an anticoagulant due to the continued risk of stroke.
Who would benefit from an AV node ablation?
AV node ablation is typically the last resort and is used for treating AFib that is untreatable by any other means.
- It tends to be recommended for elderly patients for whom catheter ablation and surgery are deemed to be too risky.
- Most afib patients are advised to explore all other recommended treatment options for atrial fibrillation before opting for an AV node ablation.
- Whether because of the long-term effects of the arrhythmia or because of the AV node ablation itself, many patients may still feel symptoms of general fatigue and tiredness after recovering from this procedure.
- An AV node ablation may be an option to consider for patients who already have a pacemaker or need one for other reasons.