Cryotherapy of cardiac arrhythmia: From basic science to the bedside

Heart Rhythm. 2015 Oct;12(10):2195-203. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2015.05.034. Epub 2015 May 29.


This review focuses on the basic science of cellular destruction by tissue freezing and application of transvenous cryocatheter technology to treat cardiac arrhythmia. Ideally, foci for arrhythmias are selectively ablated, arrhythmogenic tissues are destroyed, and reentry circuits are bisected in order to silence adverse electrical activity, with the goal of restoring normal sinus rhythm. The mechanism of ablation using cryotherapy results in distinct lesion qualities advantageous to radiofrequency (Khairy P, Chauvet M, Lehman J, et al. Lower incidence of thrombus formation with cryoenergy versus radiofrequency catheter ablation. Circulation 2003;107:2045-2050). This review is devoted to the mechanism of cryoablation, postablation histopathological changes, and how this information should be used by the clinicians to improve safety and maximize ablation success.

Keywords: Arrhythmia; Cryoablation; Cryoballoon; Pulmonary vein isolation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / surgery*
  • Catheter Ablation / methods*
  • Cryotherapy*
  • Heart Conduction System / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Pulmonary Veins / surgery