New NHS study highlights clinical & financial benefits of Radio Frequency Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation patients

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NHS Supply Chain has published a case study highlighting the cost savings of Radio Frequency point by point (RF PP) ablation vs Cryoballoon or laser ablation for patients suffering from Atrial Fibrillation (AF). 

This recommendation was driven by analysis from the National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) that RF PP was the most cost-effective treatment option. 

The case study, titled Value Based Procurement Initiative Reduces Number of Repeat Catheter Ablation Procedures, was led by Dr Richard Balasubramaniam, Clinical Lead for Electrophysiology at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

Dr Balasubramaniam was seeing more patients requiring a redo ablation following a cryoballoon ablation1. Due to the potential impact on patient outcomes and the cost impact of a redo, Dr Balasubramaniam decided to audit the data. 

Dr Balasubramaniam audited the data and found significantly more of the RF patients were free from AF at 12 months compared to cryoballoon patients.  This meant 19% of patients came back for a re-do if they had cryoballoon first time compared to just 11% if they received radiofrequency first time. This led the team at Royal Bournemouth Hospital to switch practice from 76% to nearly 100% RF using catheter ablation by Biosense Webster, part of Johnson & Johnson MedTech. A cost model was developed which looked at the cost of an ablation procedure including the device cost. The outcome data was then applied to work out the cost per patient. 

Using this information, a 24-month saving of £1853 per patient could be achieved if all patients underwent RF ablation.1

The benefits of switching technology from cryoballon to Biosense Webster RF, allowed for a reduction of number of repeat ablation procedures, which not only impacts on reducing the cost per patient of achieving freedom from AF, but also allows saved capacity to be used for first time ablation patients1.

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Dr Balasubramaniam commented: “It is undoubtably true that we have found that using radiofrequency point by point ablation in our hands is superior to cryoablation for 1st time AF ablation. Both clinically and financially, it therefore made sense for us to switch to RF ablation for all our first time AF ablations where possible.”

Polly Clements, Business Leader for Biosense Webster UK, said: “This study reinforces our commitment to not only developing medical technologies that support the best outcomes, but also driving efficiencies from a cost and resource point of view for healthcare providers. Reducing the number of repeat ablation procedures means more patients can be treated and have their quality of life restored.”

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About Biosense Webster, Inc. 
Biosense Webster, Inc., part of Johnson & Johnson Medical MedTech, is a global leader in the science of diagnosing and treating heart rhythm disorders. The company partners with clinicians to develop innovative technologies that improve the quality of care for arrhythmia patients worldwide. For more information, visit

Johnson & Johnson MedTech 
At Johnson & Johnson MedTech, we unleash diverse healthcare expertise, purposeful technology, and a passion for people to transform the future of medical intervention and empower everyone to live their best life possible. For more than a century, we have driven breakthrough scientific innovation to address unmet needs and reimagine health. In surgery, orthopaedics, vision, and interventional solutions, we continue to help save lives and create a future where healthcare solutions are smarter, less invasive, and more personalized. 

NHS Supply Chain