What is Catheter Ablation?

Catheter ablation is a procedure used to treat cardiac arrhythmias.

Before the procedure begins, you will be given a mild sedative to help you relax. The skin on your groin will be cleansed and numbed with an anesthetic. Your cardiologist will then make a small incision in your blood vessel. Next, multiple thin wires are advanced through the veins, into your heart. With these wires, we attempt to reproduce your heart rhythm problem and map where the problem is coming from. Once the location is determined, one of these wires, called an ablation catheter, will deliver radiofrequency energy (RF) to the area causing the problem. This is the same energy surgeons use in the operating room with cautery. One or multiple applications of radiofrequency ablation energy (RF) is delivered to the areas causing the problem. The ablation procedure can last 2-6 hours.

Our skilled cardiologists have been performing catheter ablation for over 25 years. They understand you may have questions and concerns about your procedure, and they are happy to provide you with answers and put you at ease.

Catheter Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation:

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common type of arrhythmia. It affects 2 million Americans, most of whom are elderly. Atrial fibrillation is characterized by an irregular, chaotic speed or rhythm of the heart. It is caused by a malfunction in the heart’s electrical system.

Individuals with AF may not feel any symptoms. Others may experience:

  • confusion
  • fatigue
  • difficulty exercising
  • palpitations
  • shortness of breath
  • pain the in chest
  • weakness
  • dizziness or fainting

Both medication and catheter ablation have been used to treat AF for over 15 years. However, research indicates that medication may actually make a heart rhythm worse, rather than better. As a center for National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Mayo Clinic study, we are evaluating which treatment should be used to help treat AF.

Catheter Ablation can also be used to treat:

Ventricular tachycardia occurs in patients whose heart beats more than 100 beats a minute, with at least three irregular heartbeats in a row. Ventricular tachycardia can develop as a result of a heart attack, heart disease, cardiomyopathy, heart failure, heart surgery and myocarditis. It is sometimes seen in people with normal hearts, but can still cause severe symptoms.

Wolf Parkinson White or an Accessory pathway is characterized by extra pathways, which connect to the atrium and ventricles. In this case, the heart beats faster because the extra pathways cause signals to travel back to the atrium. Patients with this condition can experience dizziness, fainting or rarely, a life threatening rapid heartbeat.

AV Nodal Reentrant Tachycardia (AVNRT) is marked by impulses which move in a circle. The impulses reenter areas that have already been passed through, due to an extra pathway that lies in or near the AV node.

Is Catheter Ablation Right For Me?

Your doctor will perform a thorough evaluation to determine if catheter ablation is the right form of treatment for you.

Your doctor may take into consideration:

  • Your medical history
  • A physical examination
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Holter monitor test
  • Any additional tests or evaluations

How Successful is Catheter Ablation?

Success rates vary for catheter ablation based on each individual’s heart condition and the specific rhythm being treated. Your doctor will be happy to discuss your chances for success with you.