What is the indication for surgical ablation (av node ablation) for atrial fibrillation?

Definitive Control. We don't generally do this with surgery, but rather with a "catheter" based procedure (wire we thread into the heart that cauterizes the av node). This procedure provides complete control of the heart rate in the lower chamber and excellent symptom control, but makes people dependent on the pacemaker that *must* be implanted with this procedure.
AF ablation. Patients with atrial fibrillation and have difficulty controlling their rate can be treated with an av node ablation which is a procedure that damages the av node so that it won't conduct the beat. This results in complete heart block and is treated with a pacemaker. More recent treatments for af include an af ablation which gets rid of the af directly and does not require a pacemaker.
Varies. Cather ablation of the av node is reserved for patients who can not get the pulse rate under control by any other method - it is usually only used as a last resort. Before this, medications are tried, and usually some sort of catheter ablation for atrial fib specifically (not just the av node). A pacemaker is required prior to av node ablation.
Rate control. To control the ventricular response rate (pulse rate) to the atrial fibrillation when all other medications have failed, contraindicated, or are not tolerated due to unacceptable side effects.

Related Questions

Can cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation cause damage to the coronary arteries close to the ablation site

Yes but it's rare. The coronary arteries, most specifically a branch of the left circumflex artery run directly beneath a structure called the left atrial appendage. Ablation in that region, or just behind it puts rf energy near that artery. However, the artery has very high flow (relatively speaking) and is thus protected from damage the majority of the time. Read more...

How safe is a cardiac ablation? Will it help to cure atrial fibrillation? If it does, will I have to continue taking medication

Usually safe. Although many serious complications can occur during an ablation, when performed by a skilled physician with plenty if experience in a good hospital it is usually very safe. When successful an ablation may allow a patient to come off medications prescribed for the arrhythmia which was ablated. Atrial fibrillation is an arrhythmia which can be cured with ablation. Read more...

I need to undergo cardiac ablation to treat my atrial fibrillation, how do I select a doctor?

Electrophysiologist. A subspecialty of cardiology is specially trained and certified to perform this procedure. Have your pcp refer to you to one near you with the proper training and experience. Read more...
Eectrophysiologist. I agree that an electrophysiologist wil provide the best information regarding catheter ablation. It is important to ask questions regarding outcomes and success rates. I would recommend a university setting for this type of ablation that will provide the best staff as well as equipment. Read more...
It's Tough. Finding the most competent doctor in your area can be extremely difficult. Send me a message and i'll get you a name or two of some nationally recognized people not too far away. Read more...

O've had two heart surgeries as a child and had an ablation for atrial fibrillation. How often should I see my cardiologist?

Visit returns. Frequency for re checks really depends on the problem(s) and the symptoms. Not knowing what your surgeries were or the success of the ablation it is hard to say. If all has been repaired and no symptoms and sinus rhythm are stable, then yearly visits would likely be fine. If you're having problems, then they would dictate the frequency of return visits. Read more...

Do you think Atrial Fibrillation would improve with an ablation? Only remedy so far is cardioversion

Yes. RF ablation for atrial fibrillation and/or atrial flutter in good hands ought to be curative. Factors that determine success: electrophysiologists experience and record of success, duration of AF; size and function of Left atrium. Good luck! . Read more...