Heart Health

Arrhythmia Ablation

What is an Arrhythmia Ablation?

Arrhythmia ablation is a procedure used to correct an abnormal heart rhythm. 

Radiofrequency ablation and cryoablation are the two primary methods used during arrhythmia ablation. 

Radiofrequency ablation uses high-energy radio signals to create small burns on the abnormal tissue in the heart and eliminate the tissue causing arrhythmias. Cryoablation is similar to radiofrequency ablation. However, cryoablation uses frigid temperatures to freeze tissue instead of heat.

What Happens During an Arrhythmia Ablation?

During the procedure, your doctor will numb the point-of-entry (arm, groin, thigh, or neck) of the catheter with a local anesthetic. A type of x-ray technology, called fluoroscopy, will be used to see the catheter as it moves toward your heart. Your doctor will attempt to recreate the arrhythmia in your heart to determine what is causing it. Once detected, your doctor will use the catheter to alter or destroy the tissue causing the rhythm problem. Either radiofrequency or cryoablation will be used depending on the type of ablation being performed. After the procedure is over, your doctor will remove the catheter(s) and the insertion sites using pressure on the vessel or in some cases a simple suture.

What are the Risks of an Arrhythmia Ablation?

Severe complications related to the procedure are rare, but the possibility they will occur does exist. Potential complications include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Puncturing the heart muscle
  • Damage to a heart valve
  • Blood clots
  • Stroke or heart attack
  • Pulmonary stenosis
  • Kidney damage

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