Hybrid Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation

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Hybrid ablation for atrial fibrillation (A-fib) combines minimally invasive treatment of the inside and outside of the heart to interrupt the cause of A-fib and restore a normal heart rhythm.

The procedure is called hybrid because of the combination. During the treatment, the specialists at Norton Heart & Vascular Institute use precise tools to deliver a gentle bit of heat (ablation) to the heart muscle, creating scar tissue that interrupts errant electrical signals that cause A-fib and may minimize the symptoms that you feel. A-fib also can have long-term effects on the health of your heart.

The specialists at Norton Heart & Vascular Institute, serving Louisville and Southern Indiana, have been performing hybrid ablations since 2017 — longer than any other providers in the area. Norton Heart & Vascular Institute is among the 10 most experienced programs in the country in terms of successfully completed hybrid ablation procedures.

Making the procedure available to many more patients, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved hybrid ablation as the only minimally invasive ablation treatment for patients who have been in continuous A-fib for more than one year.

The American College of Cardiology has recognized Norton Audubon Hospital, Norton Brownsboro Hospital and Norton Hospital for their expertise and commitment to cardiac catheterization procedures like hybrid ablation. The accreditation recognizes consistent best practices of patient care and the ability to provide the highest level of cardiac catheterization procedures.

The experienced hybrid ablation specialists at Norton Heart & Vascular Institute routinely train other physicians on how to perform the procedure safely. Norton Healthcare contributed to the FDA’s decision process to approve the procedure by providing data on the procedure and success rates.

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Atrial Fibrillation Clinic

The Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Atrial Fibrillation Clinic is designed to evaluate and treat anyone experiencing this common arrhythmia. The team of providers and a nurse navigator create a custom treatment plan for each patient that considers options ranging from medication to evaluation for advanced treatment options like hybrid ablation.

What Is the Hybrid Ablation Procedure?

Cardiac ablation in general is the precise use of heat or cold to create tiny bits of scar tissue in or on the heart at the source of the A-fib to steady the heartbeat. Some patients may have a catheter ablation, which addresses just the inside of the heart, before the hybrid procedure is considered for a minimally invasive way to treat the outside of the heart.

You’ll be treated by highly experienced electrophysiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons who collaborate toward the best possible outcome.

The first step is addressing the outside of the heart through an inch-long incision under the rib cage. The surgeon inserts an instrument that delivers heat via radio frequency to the precise spot on the outside of your heart to interrupt the A-fib.

After several weeks, a second procedure is done that targets the signals for A-fib inside the heart. A small catheter is inserted through the groin and into the heart. The tip of the catheter delivers heat to the precise spot on the inside of your heart to interrupt the signals that cause A-fib.

By completing an ablation from the inside and outside of the heart, our specialists increase the chances of restoring a normal sinus rhythm (normal heart rhythm).

On-demand A-fib Educational Workshop

Learn more about A-fib and advanced treatment options. Once you register for this free virtual workshop, you will receive a link to watch at your convenience.

Hybrid Ablation Benefits

  • Higher rates of success at reducing your A-fib symptoms
  • Minimally invasive approach with incisions no larger than an inch
  • Short hospital stays and recovery time for most patients

Who Is a Good Candidate for Hybrid Ablation?

You may be a good candidate for the procedure if:

  • You have persistent A-fib.
  • You have had long-standing (more than a year), persistent A-fib.
  • Your A-fib has not responded, or isn’t expected to respond, to treatments such as medications or catheter ablation alone.
  • Symptoms related to A-fib continue.
  • Other health conditions are worsening as a result of A-fib.

Patients who have had open-chest surgeries are not eligible for hybrid ablation. Consult your physician to explore your treatment options.

What to Expect After Hybrid Ablation

  • Some mild chest discomfort from inflammation caused by the first procedure is not uncommon. The side effects of general anesthesia are the source of most discomfort and should pass after three to four hours.
  • After the first procedure, you will need to stay in the hospital for monitoring as your medication is adjusted. This usually takes two to three days.
  • After the second procedure, patients typically spend only one night in the hospital.
  • Most patients who are feeling well and don’t have strenuous jobs can go back to work in a few days. Those with physically demanding jobs may have to wait about two weeks.
  • It may take several months after the second procedure for your heart to adjust to the ablation and for your heart rhythm to improve.
  • You will have follow-up appointments with the surgery and electrophysiology team to evaluate your progress. Norton Telehealth may be an option for some of your follow-up appointments.
Meet Our Specialists

Heart and Vascular Care for the Whole Person

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute offers patient resources to support you and your family, including free classes for people of all ages who are seeking to improve cardiovascular health or living with a heart condition.

Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

Our cardiac rehabilitation providers are leaders in developing and applying innovative techniques that can help you recover and resume your life.

Connecting Hearts Support Group

The group provides education and support to individuals who have had a heart attack, are living with a heart condition or are at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Heart Health Screenings

Prevention is the best way to manage heart disease, and screenings are available to detect early signs of cardiac and vascular disease and identify risk factors.

About Norton Heart & Vascular Institute

Every year, more than 137,000 people in Louisville and Southern Indiana choose Norton Heart & Vascular Institute specialists for their heart and vascular care. That’s more than any other health care provider.

  • Norton Healthcare’s adult-service hospitals in Louisville all have received Chest Pain Center accreditation from the American College of Cardiology (ACC). This is the seventh consecutive accreditation for all four hospitals, which ensures quality for the treatment of heart attack.
  • Norton Audubon Hospital, Norton Brownsboro Hospital and Norton Hospital all are recognized as having ACC Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI accreditation.
  • Norton Healthcare has the most facilities across the city of Louisville with the ability treat a life-threatening heart attack.
  • You have access to more than 100 physicians and advanced practice providers with specialized training and experience in a comprehensive range of conditions and treatments.
  • Patients can make appointments at 28 locations in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Telecardiology is offered at more than 30 sites in the region.
  • Norton Audubon Hospital, a key location for Norton Heart & Vascular Institute services, has been recognized with a HeartCare Center National Distinction of Excellence year after year by the American College of Cardiology. This is the only hospital in Louisville to be recognized for this distinction.
  • U.S. News & World Report 2023-24 Best Hospitals ranked Norton Healthcare’s adult-service hospitals in Louisville as high performing in heart attack, heart failure, aortic valve surgery and heart bypass surgery.
  • Norton Audubon Hospital earned ventricular assist device (VAD) accreditation from DNV – Healthcare and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
  • Communicate with your health care provider, renew prescriptions, get lab results and more through your free Norton MyChart account.

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