Cardiac Radiofrequency Ablation

(AV Node, WPW, SVT, Atrial Flutter, Ventricular Tachycardia, Atrial Tachycardia, RVOT, AVNRT)

RF Ablations are done in an attempt to treat or cure a patient’s arrhythmia (usually fast or irregular). This is done by first giving IV sedation, which will help a patient feel comfortable, but not completely asleep, and then by numbing the groin area with a local anesthetic. The doctor(s) will then thread catheters to the right side of the heart, by way of the femoral (groin) veins, which a patient will not feel. Depending on the rhythm being treated, a patient may have 1-5 groin punctures (no incisions or stitches), and may have catheters in one groin or both. The procedure typically lasts from 2-5 hours, during which time the doctor(s) will find and destroy the electrical pathways that are causing the rhythm problem, using the radiofrequency waves. Most Ablation patients are released from the hospital the same day.

A Fib Ablations involve all of the above, in addition to general anesthesia, given by an anesthesiologist. This type of patient also gets a urinary catheter. A Fib Ablation patients are taken to the Recovery Room for a couple of hours before going to their rooms. Sometimes these patients stay several days in the hospital for further monitoring and or medications. Often, A Fib Ablations need to be repeated after some months or years.

Preparation for this procedure often involves stopping some heart rhythm medicines prior to the procedure, in order for the ablation to be successful. Each patient will be told if he should stop his particular medicine and when. Patients are instructed not to eat or drink for 6 hours (8 hours for A Fib Ablation) before the procedure start time, except that they may they may take most of their morning pills with a sip of water. We have Ablation patients check in 2 hours before the procedure to the Surgery Waiting Room.