Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may need to stop some up to 1 week in advance.
Don't eat or drink anything for up to 8 hours before the procedure.
Local anesthesia is used. It will numb the area where the catheter is placed. You may get a mild sedative to relax you.
Description of Procedure
An ablation catheter will be inserted into a blood vessel. The groin, upper thigh area, arm, or wrist can be used. The catheter is passed through a blood vessel to the heart. X-rays will help guide the catheter to the right place.
Your doctor will locate the origin of your arrhythmia. This will be done by setting off the arrhythmia with the catheter tip. When found, the area is cooled with the tip. The cold will temporarily stop the arrhythmia. If it’s not the right area, the tip is removed. The tissue will not be damaged.
The tubes will be removed and the area will be bandaged.
Immediately After Procedure
You will be moved to a recovery room.
If the groin was used, you will likely need to lie still and flat on your back for a period of time. A pressure dressing will help control bleeding.
How Long Will It Take?
3-6 hours, but it could be longer
How Much Will It Hurt?
You may feel some minor discomfort as the catheter is inserted. You may feel lightheaded, experience a rapid heartbeat, or experience chest pain during the freezing process.
Average Hospital Stay
Most people stay overnight for further observation. If you have problems, you may need to stay longer.
At the Hospital
The healthcare staff will watch your vital signs. They will also care for the insertion site to make sure there aren’t any problems.
To help you heal faster:
Take aspirin as advised. You may need it for 2-4 weeks to lower your chances of blood clots.
Care for the insertion site to prevent infection.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
Fever or chills
Redness, swelling, pain, excess bleeding, or pus from where the catheter was inserted
Your leg feels cold, turns white or blue, or becomes numb or tingly
Coughing or breathing problems
Nausea or vomiting
Pain in the jaw, chest, neck, arms, or upper back
Lightheadedness or weakness
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Ablation for arrhythmias. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/PreventionTreatmentofArrhythmia/Ablation-for-Arrhythmias_UCM_301991_Article.jsp#.W0On_tVKhQI. Updated June 5, 2017. Accessed July 9, 2018.
Catheter ablation. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/cardiovascular/catheter_ablation_135,45. Accessed July 9, 2018.
Catheter ablation. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/catheter-ablation. Accessed July 9, 2018.
Miller JM, Zipes DP. Cardiology patient page. Catheter ablation of arrhythmias. Circulation. 2002;106(25):e203-205.
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