What is an ablation?
An ablation is a procedure to treat arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). In an ablation, a thin, soft tube (catheter) is placed into a vein in your groin or neck and brought to your heart. The catheter can be used to study the arrhythmia. The catheter can then be used to apply heat (radiofrequency) or cold (cryoablation) to the heart tissue that is causing the arrhythmia.
Who should receive an ablation?
An ablation is helpful for patients who have an abnormal heart rhythm that can be suppressed or eliminated.
An ablation is frequently effective for atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. An ablation can be a cure for atrial flutter, supraventricular tachycardia, premature ventricular contractions (PVC), and Wolff Parkinson White (WPW).
How long does an ablation last?
The length of time that an ablation lasts depends on the type of arrhythmia that a patient has. An ablation for atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia can last 4 to 6 hours. Ablations for atrial flutter, supraventricular tachycardia, Wolff Parkinson White, and other arrhythmias may last 1 to 3 hours.
What should I expect in an ablation?
Ablations take place in the hospital. Patients arrive at the hospital several hours before the procedure is scheduled. You should not eat anything that morning. You should take the medications that you are instructed to take by your physician. Once you have registered for your procedure at the hospital, you will change into a hospital gown and be brought to a prep area where you will meet with Anesthesiology and some of the nursing staff. You will be brought to the Electrophysiology Laboratory.
The type of anesthesia you receive will depend on the type of arrhythmia that you have and the expected length of time that your procedure will last. After the procedure, you will have to lie flat for 4 hours (sometimes longer) to ensure that you will not have bleeding in your leg where the catheters go in. Some patients stay overnight after their procedure while other patients are able to leave on the same day.