Tachycardia is a cardiac condition characterized by rapid heartbeat. It is caused due to the presence of abnormal electrical circuits in the heart that disrupt normal cardiac electrical signals essential for proper functioning of the heart. The abnormal signals originate from a small number of cells (focus) in the atria (supraventricular tachycardia) or ventricles (ventricular tachycardia). Ablation of the cardiac tissue at the focus eliminates tachycardia and cures it, permanently. In others, the electrical signal travels in a circle and forms a re-entrant circuit, causing complex tachycardia. Complex tachycardia is difficult to treat and has a high recurrence rate after ablation therapy. Effective treatment involves ablation of the cardiac tissue at the bottle neck area of the reentrant circuit where a small damage can break the circuit and prevent reentry. This requires proper target mapping of the site of ablation, which is difficult to determine.
With the advances in cryotechnology, cold energy is also used for catheter-based ablation treatment of arrhythmia. It is particularly useful for ablation around the atrioventricular node. During cryotherapy, the removal of heat from the tissue is performed rather than injection of cold energy into the tissue. This creates a temperature gradient ranging from sub-zero cryogenic temperature at the tip/tissue interface of the catheter to body temperature at sites away from the catheter tip. The cryo zone expands during freezing and shrinks upon rewarming. The cooling and freezing in the living tissue thus affects the cellular function and activity, and causes ablation. Cryotherapy is quite safe and effective, and is mainly used in peri-nodal procedures.