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CHU Caen Normandie offers a new atrial fibrillation ablation technique
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CHU Caen Normandie offers a new atrial fibrillation ablation technique

For several weeks, the CHU Caen Normandie has had a new technique of atrial ablation by pulsed electric field, also called electroporation, to treat atrial fibrillation. A safe technique that limits the risk of complications.

Atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder that makes the heart race and beat irregularly, causing unpleasant symptoms like palpitations or shortness of breath. This very common arrhythmia, which concerns almost a million French people, is also one of the main causes of ischemic vascular accident. Antiarrhythmic treatment can be drug-based or interventional through a procedure called atrial fibrillation ablation.

Ablation of atrial fibrillation by electroporation

The electrical foci at the origin of atrial fibrillation are located in the vast majority of cases at the level of the origin of the pulmonary veins in the left atrium. The principle of the treatment is therefore to electrically isolate the region of the pulmonary veins from the rest of the left atrium. This treatment is performed during an operation performed under general anesthesia or vigilant sedation. Until now, the techniques used are based on thermal energies: radiofrequency or cryotherapy. The principle of electroporation treatment is to achieve tissue damage using high voltage electric micro-shocks.

The advantage of this technique lies in the tissue specificity. The level of energy to damage a cell is different between a muscle, a nerve, a vessel. This makes it possible to deliver an effective level of energy to the tissues to be treated while respecting the neighboring anatomical structures.

The use of this technique in cardiology , and more particularly in rhythmology, is recent but very promising. It allows a more secure management of the patient, a better recovery as well as a faster intervention. It has the advantage of not causing damage to non-cardiac collateral tissues, whereas current thermal ablation techniques can affect neighboring tissues, in particular the esophagus and the phrenic nerve.

Certain arrhythmias nevertheless require a different treatment for which radiofrequency or cryotherapy remain the most indicated.

Pulsed electric field ablation therefore represents an additional tool for the treatment of complex cardiac arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation.

Communication department of Caen Normandy University Hospital
CHU Caen Normandy

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