Hi Johnny -- Radio frequency (AF) ablation is sometimes effective in permanently correcting atrial fibrilation (A-fib), although not as good a cure rate as with many other arrhythmias. It is the ideal when it is workable, however. Quite often there are too many irritable foci causing the A-fib and then medication, electrical cardioversion (a very minor and easy procedure) or sometimes even ablation of the atrioventricular (AV) node may be employed (this last requires a permanent pacemaker placement as well. The others do not). A-fib is often a chronic, constant or recurrent problem, and the primary risk is that it may lead to secondary stroke owing to clot formation in the quivering atria going to the brain,which is why Coumadin is often employed. Coumadin is an anticoagulant which slows the tendency of the blood to clot, so clot formation in the more slowly moving blood from the atria doesn't have time to form those clots.
It is very difficult to calculate the chances of a successful ablation at a distance, since many factors are involved, but it is definitely worth looking into, and an electrophysiological (EP) study with attempted ablation can usually be tried without much additional risk. If it is successful it may be a permanent cure. Sometimes the A-fib will eventually return anyway, unlike most other arrhythmias, which is one reason many doctors don't go to the trouble and expense of trying the EP study, but I do believe it's worth a try if the patient has decent health insurance.
I hope this is helpful. Good luck to you. Please follow up with us here as needed.
John Kenyon, EMT, CCT
Non-invasive cardiology tech, Emergency and Critical Care technician, Critical Incident Stress Mgmt. specialist