Mpls. Heart Inst., Mayo Use New Heart Procedure

Both hospitals have started using a freezing balloon technology that was developed by Medtronic and recently approved for the treatment of a certain type of atrial fibrillation.

Two of the state's largest cardiac care centers-the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and the Mayo Clinic-have started using a recently approved system that was developed by Fridley-based Medtronic, Inc., for the treatment of a certain type of atrial fibrillation (AF).

AF is the most common cardiac arrhythmia-abnormal heart rhythm-and affects more than 2 million Americans.

The new treatment, called the Arctic Front cardiac cryoablation catheter system, uses a balloon-based technology that is delivered through a catheter with a coolant rather than heat.

“Freezing is an important addition to ablation technology, because it's less traumatic to the heart, and may help us eliminate the source of the problem,” William Katsiyiannis, the physician who performed the first procedure using the new technology at the Minneapolis Heart Institute, said in a statement.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the device in December 2010. It is the first and only cryoballoon in the United States for treatment of drug refractory paroxysmal atrial fibrillation.

Mayo Clinic-which was the trial site for the system-used the Arctic Front System on its first patient in early January. The system was used for the first time at the Minneapolis Heart Institute on January 19.

The trial study for the system found that that 69.9 percent of patients treated with the new technology were free from AF at one year, compared with 7.3 percent of patients treated only with drug therapy, another method for treating AF.

The Minneapolis Heart Institute is the largest cardiac care center in the state based on the number of procedures performed in 2009, which totaled 8,102. The Mayo Clinic is the third-largest center in the state with 5,938 procedures performed in 2009.