An ablation (sometimes called a catheter ablation) is a procedure that is used to correct a faulty electrical pathway within the heart, which is causing or could potentially cause an abnormally fast heartbeat (called a tachycardia or tachyarrhythmia, in medical terms). This can therefore be the treatment if you have one of the following conditions, all of which have the potential to produce a very fast heartbeat:
· Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)
· Unifocal atrial tachycardia
· Atrial flutter or atrial fibrillation
· Ventricular tachycardia.
During the procedure, you may be sedated so that you feel relaxed and sleepy, although this is not always possible because the medications used for sedation can sometimes suppress the faulty electrical pathway, therefore making it difficult for the doctors to find and fix it. You will, however, have a local anaesthetic at the point where one or more femoral sheaths (thin hollow plastic tubes) are placed. After everything has gone numb, a small cut will be made in your groin to put these sheaths in, usually into your femoral vein but sometimes also into the artery. Long tubes called catheters will then be fed through these sheaths towards your heart. These catheters are attached to a devices that can either produce radiofrequency energy at their tips (called radiofrequency ablation), or cause the tips to become very cold (cryoablation). The tips of the catheters can then be used to destroy the faulty electrical pathway that is causing your arrhythmia.
You will probably have to stay in hospital overnight after your ablation procedure and may feel sleepy if sedation has been given. The area in your groin where the catheters were inserted may feel sore for a few days afterwards, but usually gets better within 1 week.
Watch myheart member, Zenia Selby, talk about her ablation in this video below.
Watch CRY’s myheart cardiologist talk about ablation below: