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Catheter Ablation and Alternatives

Catheter ablation is a procedure to treat cardiac arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation (AF), to eliminate muscle fibers in the chambers of the heart that trigger and sustain abnormal rhythms. UC San Diego Health electrophysiologists perform a large volume of these procedures, often with minimally invasive techniques and a limited hospital stay.

Radiofrequency catheter ablation used a heating technology to destroy part of the heart muscle containing the electrical pathways that cause arrhythmias. Cryoablation (particularly for treatment of AF) uses freezing technology to ablate or destroy heart tissue that causes arrhythmias. Both procedures are performed at UC San Diego Health, providing relief for patients who may not have responded well to medications, or who would rather not or cannot take medications.

Dr. Gregory Feld, medical director of UC San Diego Health’s Electrophysiology Program, and his team of cardiac electrophysiologists, has performed this procedure in thousands of patients over the past 30 years, including catheter ablation to cure atrial fibrillation (AF).

AF, a condition estimated to affect more than 2 million people in the U.S., is a common cause of stroke and congestive heart failure. Ablation for AF may also be performed as part of an open-heart surgery, or using a minimally invasive, robotically assisted approach in our Hybrid Operating Room.

Success Rates

  • Catheter ablation for other atrial arrhythmias, including atrial flutter, and supraventricular tachycardia with or without Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, has been performed in several thousand patients over the past 20 years, with a success rate approaching 100 percent.
  • The success rate of catheter ablation for AF is between 60 percent and 85 percent after one or two procedures, depending on the duration that the patient has been in atrial fibrillation, with the best result achieved within one year of its onset.
  • Catheter ablation for ventricular arrhythmias, including premature ventricular beats, ventricular tachycardia, and even ventricular fibrillation, can also be performed, with success rates ranging from 50 to 95 percent. Read about targeted ventricular fibrillation ablation, which was first developed at UC San Diego.


Catheter ablations are performed in our electrophysiology lab, the most advanced in the region.



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