No/Low Fluoro Ablations for Afib
One of the downsides of a cardiac catheter ablation has been that a great deal of fluoroscopy or continuous x-ray was needed to visualize and guide the catheter up to the heart. For many older patients, this represented a relatively low risk during their lifetimes as compared to the benefits of the catheter ablation procedure. However, for younger patients with previous exposure to radiation – for example during cancer treatment – or for younger patients who may be more susceptible to long-term radiation exposure, the decision was less clear.
However, the difficulties of using fluoroscopy also extended to the electrophysiologist and their team. Because of the nature of radiation, the entire OR team has to wear extremely heavy lead to protect themselves from long-term exposure. This can be extremely tiring over the course of the day and limited the number of procedures that a typical electrophysiologist could perform.
As a result, new catheter guidance options have been pursued. Most recently, ultrasound guidance has been successfully implemented. Electrophysiologists trained in this advanced technology can minimize or even eliminate radiation for common procedures such as an Afib ablation.
To be sure, the learning curve is steep, however for an experienced electrophysiologist such as Dr. Banker, ultrasound visualization has become second nature and, arguably, even easier and more precise than fluoroscopy.
This is not to say that all procedures can always be performed without the use of x-ray technology. There are times when it is necessary to use fluoroscopy. However, we are happy to be one of the select providers around the country that can often offer patients a lower or no radiation exposure option.