Electrical Cardioversion

Electrical cardioversion is a treatment that involves delivering a short electrical shock to the chest, which helps reset the heart to a normal heart rhythm. A special external defibrillation machine is used, and this treatment is performed while the patient is under sedation in our electrophysiology lab. Patients can often go home the same day.


A pacemaker is a small device that monitors heartbeats and emits electrical impulses to regulate heart rhythm. For people with atrial fibrillation, a pacemaker will be used in conjunction with another treatment for the condition, but does not actually cure atrial fibrillation. You may need a pacemaker after having certain types of ablation therapy, or when heart medication may cause the heart to beat too slowly.

Learn more about pacemakers.

Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation

Radiofrequency catheter ablation is a treatment that uses high frequency radio waves to destroy the tissue source of atrial fibrillation. Catheter ablation can cure atrial fibrillation — especially in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (occasional episodes of atrial fibrillation) — with success rates reaching 70 to 80 percent.

The procedure involves the use of a specially designed catheter that is threaded through the leg into the heart. The catheter is used to locate the arrhythmia source and a device attached to the tip of the catheter delivers high-frequency radio waves to heat the tissue and eliminate the source.

Learn more about our expertise in ablation.

Ablation Surgery Treatment

Some people with atrial fibrillation may have other heart conditions like mitral valve disease, which requires valve repair/replacement, or atherosclerosis, which necessitates coronary bypass surgery. In select cases, our electrophysiologists may determine that a surgical approach is the best method to treat the arrhythmia because of the patient's anatomy, prior unsuccessful catheter treatments or other concerns.

At UChicago Medicine, our cardiac surgeons perform the modified Maze procedure, which delivers radiofrequency energy to heart tissue to redirect the electrical pathways through the heart. This treatment is performed during open-heart surgery or using minimally invasive techniques done through small incisions in the chest.

Learn more about atrial fibrillation surgery.

Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion

We are one of the few centers to offer both left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) implant devices, FDA-approved WATCHMAN and AMULET, to prevent stroke-causing blood clots from escaping from the heart for patients who cannot take oral anticoagulants. This minimally invasive procedure uses a permanent implant to seal off the pouch in the heart where blood clots commonly form. Tissue grows over the implant and patients are able to eventually come off of blood thinners.

By using the latest LAAC technologies, including 4D intracardiac echocardiography (ICE), we can deliver high-quality care to all our patients without requiring general anesthesia or the more invasive transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE). Additionally, because roughly 20% of patients are not ideal candidates for WATCHMAN, we offer an equally effective alternative in AMULET to prevent strokes without requiring anticoagulants. Advanced LAAC devices are designed for maximum flexibility, with several shapes and sizes to provide an unparalleled seal around the left atrial appendage. These devices feature unrestricted maneuverability during the procedure to easily reposition the implant for optional placement, which offers our patients long-term success.


Atrial Fibrillation Locations Near You

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Atrial Fibrillation