Cardiac Ablation is the procedure used to treat Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), which is the most common type of Arrhythmia (problems in heart rhythm).In this procedure, the electric activity of the heart is detected by inserting electrodes (small wires) into the heart via catheter, and destroying the faulty tissue that is causing abnormal heartbeat. In some cases Cardiac Ablation is performed through open heart surgery, instead of using catheter.
- Medications and Cardioversion (bringing the heart back to normal beat) fail to treat arrhythmias
- Stroke or blood clotting or any other high risk complication due to arrhythmia
- Side-effects from medications prescribed to treat abnormal heartbeat
- Your doctor will check your medical history - drugs or herbs the patient is taking. The doctor will check if you are using any blood thinner.
- Your doctor will perform certain tests to evaluate the condition of the heart, and discuss the risk, if any.
- Your doctor will ask you to take special precautions if you have pacemaker or defibrillator implantated.
- Intake of food has to be stopped 6 to 8 hours prior to the procedure.
- After the patient has been given the sedative and the skin of a few considerable areas is cleaned and made numb, the doctor makes a small cut in the skin.
- Through this cut, a flexible and small tube (Catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel in that area.
- The catheter is then carefully taken to the heart with the help of guiding X-ray images.
- Small electrodes are placed in different areas of the heart and then connected to monitors, after the catheter has reached its proper position.
- This is done so that the surgeon can detect the area of the heart which is causing the rhythm problems. There is often more than one such area.
- After having found the problem-causing source, electrical or cold energy is sent to that area, via a catheter line. This results in the heart rhythm problem to stop as a scar has been created.
- Bleeding – where catheters were put – is made to reduce.
- You will be asked to stay in the recovery area for 5 to 6 hours. Your heartbeat and blood pressure will be monitored.
- Depending on the medical condition, you can go home the same day.
- You will observe soreness in the chest, however it will go in 5 to 7 days.
- Some symptoms, like irregular or fast heartbeat, pain in chest, fatigue, etc. might be seen till 2-3 days after the procedure.
Once you are back to your normal life your doctor will recommend certain changes in the lifestyle, especially to ensure that your blood pressure stays in control. Your doctor may recommend you to:
- Decrease caffeine intake
- Monitor salt intake
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Manage emotions
RISK AND COMPLICATIONS
- Blood pooling or bleeding or infection at the place of insertion of the catheter
- Damaging of the artery where catheter was put
- Blood vessels carrying blood to the heart (Coronary arteries) might be damaged
- Cardiac Tamponade - outlining of the heart with fluid
- Damaging of the heart valves and/or heart electrical system
- Damaging of the kidney, from the dye used during the procedure
- Venous Thromboembolism - Clotting of blood in legs and/or lungs
- In some cases, may cause heart attack
- In rare cases, may cause death