For many people with heart arrhythmias their doctor will recommend heart ablation as the remedy. Also known as catheter ablation this is a relatively safe procedure that has a high rate of success.
An heart arrhythmia is usually due to a structural defect of the heart which causes the heart to beat too slow or too fast. The defect causes the electrical impulses in your heart to not be able to flow properly. Although there are many minor defects that cause minimal problems with the function of the heart, when it becomes more than just an occasional flutter your doctor will recommend a course of action he deems necessary including heart ablation.
Usually a prescription drug is tried first ti alleviate a s much of the problem as possible. When that does not work more drastic measures will be sought. The heart ablation procedure is the least invasive way to get to the area and attempt a correction. Sometimes an heart ablation is done at the same time as open heart surgery but as you may surmise it is best not to have to open the chest cavity.
In preparation for the procedure you may need to get off any drugs you are presently taking to correct the arrhythmias. Your doctor will advise you in this matter. The doctor will also recommend that you not eat or drink anything during the 12 hours prior to the surgery. He may also recommend that you not take other medications as well.
Once in the operating room you will be given an IV in your forearm and a sedative to help you relax. After the sedative takes effect an area will be numbed near a vein in your neck, forearm, or groin/inner thigh area.
A needle will then be inserted in the chosen area. Next a tube called a sheath is attached to allow the doctor to inject a dye that will go to the heart and expose the area causing the trouble via x-ray. The tube is the entrance point for the catheter that will then be inserted in to the vein.
The tips of the catheter have special electrodes which will be used to perform the corrections necessary. Once the doctor determines the problem area he will maneuver the catheter to the area and use it to cause scarring on the heart which allows the electrical impulses to travel more normally.
The tips of the catheter are equipped with one of three different energy sources. Many times heat is used via radio frequency to make the scar tissue. The two other methods are laser and Cryoablation, which is extreme cold.
The heart ablation/catheter ablation procedure usually takes 3 to 6 hours but can be longer for extreme cases. After the surgery the recovery time can be from a few hours to an overnight stay. You will probably be sore for up to a week but you should be able to return to near normal activities within a few days.