Procedures for Atrial Fibrillation

While medications are common for atrial fibrillation as first-line treatment, they may not control afib and won’t stop it long term. However, procedures are becoming first-line treatment and could stop your afib, and in some cases, may decrease your stroke risk.

However, procedures have risks, so doing your homework and asking questions of your doctor will help you decide whether having a procedure is right for you.

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Follow the links below to learn about the various procedure options for afib, including electrical cardioversion, catheter ablation, surgery procedures, hybrid ablation, and left atrial appendage occlusion.

  • Electrical Cardioversion shocks the heart back into normal rhythm.
  • Catheter Ablation is done by an electrophysiologist (a cardiologist specializing in heart rhythms) in the electrophysiology (EP) lab. A catheter is inserted through the groin, neck, or arm and threaded to the heart. The catheter then emits energy—radiofrequency, cryothermy, or laser—to the tissue. This creates scars on the heart tissue that act as barriers to stop abnormal electrical signals that cause irregular heartbeats.
  • Surgery Procedures are done by a cardiothoracic surgeon. There are different versions. The Maze procedure is an open-heart surgery using an energy source to scar the tissue. It is typically combined with other heart surgery, such as valve repair or bypass, called a concomitant procedure. The Mini maze procedure is a minimally-invasive surgical ablation, a closed-chest procedure, that uses the same energy source to scar the tissue.
  • Hybrid Ablation Procedures are newer treatments incorporating surgery and catheter ablation. A cardiac surgeon ablates tissue outside the heart, and an electrophysiologist ablates tissue inside the heart. This combined approach could improve success rates for patients with persistent and longstanding persistent afib who want a minimally invasive (closed chest) treatment option. Both procedures may be done on the same day or days to weeks apart.
  • Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion Devices are used to close or occlude the heart’s left atrial appendage to prevent strokes in people who cannot take anticoagulant medications and potentially decrease the amount of afib. This procedure can be done during catheter ablation, surgical procedures, or hybrid ablation procedures. It may also be done as a standalone procedure to help reduce the risk of stroke. is a “patient-to-patient” site to help all afib patients make informed decisions regarding their life and health. Mellanie True Hills, our founder, shares her experiences with the mini maze procedure here at Also, see our patient stories to learn about other procedures.

Please share your experiences with us at our StopAfib Discussion Forum, using the link below, where you can help others and join in the conversations. While you may also share them privately at Contact Us, the discussion forum is best.

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