- What Is It?
- Why Is It Done?
- What To Expect
Heart ablation surgery is usually safe but like every procedure, there are some risks associated with it.
Problems with heart ablation surgery include:
- The injury to the blood vessels as the catheter passes through
- Blood clots in the legs or lungs
- Stroke or heart attack
- Worsening of the arrhythmias
- Narrowing of the veins between the lungs and the heart
- Kidney damage from the dye
- Puncture in heart
- Damage to the heart valves
- Cardiac tamponade (fluid around the heart)
- Esophageal atrial fistula (an abnormal connection that forms between the esophagus and part of the heart)
What is a heart ablation surgery?
Heart ablation or cardiac ablation is a procedure done to rectify problems with heart rhythm (arrhythmias). It is a low-risk procedure that involves scarring or destroying the tissue in the heart, which triggers an abnormal heart rhythm. Heart ablation is carried out by the insertion of a catheter through the groin and directed to the heart to injure the tissues with radio waves to reduce the fibrillation.
Types of cardiac catheter ablation include:
- High-energy radio waves (radiofrequency ablation): The physician inserts a catheter to send a strong radio wave that ultimately scars each vein or a group of veins.
- Cryoablation: The physician uses a probe with a very cold temperature to freeze the tissue to cause a scar.
- Microwave ablation: The physician sends energy through a thin probe to scar the tissue.
- Pulmonary vein ablation: This involves utilizing energy around the connections of the pulmonary vein near the atrium to restore the regular heart rhythm.
Surgical ablation involves an incision in the chest and is of three types:
- Maze procedure
- Mini maze
- Convergent procedure
Why is a heart ablation done?
Heart ablation may help correct arrhythmias. Ablation isn’t the first line of treatment; however, it may be indicated in people who:
- Have failed medication therapy
- Have serious adverse effects from medications used in the treatment of arrhythmias
- Have certain types of arrhythmias that respond to ablation
- Have complications arising from arrhythmias, such as sudden cardiac arrest
How to prepare for a heart ablation?
You should enlist your medical and medication history to the physician. Tell the physician about what medicines you are taking, even nonprescription medicines or herbs. Before the surgery, you should:
- Ask your physician about the medicines to take on the day of the surgery
- Inform the physician if you are on blood thinners
- Inform the physician if you have a cold, flu, fever, herpes breakout, or any illness
- Stop smoking a few days before the procedure
- Stop drinking or eating anything after midnight the night before your procedure
- Stop taking antiarrhythmic medications several days before the procedure
- Ask the doctor about any precautions if you have a pacemaker or implanted defibrillator
Latest Heart News
Daily Health News
How is heart ablation surgery performed?
- An intravenous line is passed into a vein in the arm for anesthesia and sedative medicines
- Your groin area will be cleaned and shaved before the surgery
- To numb the injection site, you will be given a local anesthetic
- The physician will make a needle puncture through your skin into the blood vessel in the groin
- After making a puncture, the physician inserts a small straw-sized tube (sheath) into the blood vessel. Through this sheath, the physician gently guides a catheter into the blood vessel.
- Through this sheath, the physician feeds the heart with several long, thin tubes with wires, known as the electrode catheters.
- The physician locates the abnormal tissue by sending a small electrical impulse through the electrode catheter.
- The physician places the catheter at the precise site inside the heart where the unusual tissues are present. Radiofrequency energy is sent through a catheter that destroys the heart muscles in a tiny area, which is responsible for abnormal heart rhythms.
What to expect after a heart ablation surgery?
After the surgery, the sheath remains in the leg for several hours. After removing the sheath:
- The nurse will put pressure on the puncture site to stop the bleeding
- You should keep your leg straight for 6-8 hours.
- You may be given Aspirin for 2-4 weeks to minimize the risk of clot formation
After going home:
- Avoid physical activity for 3 days
- Don’t drive for 24 hours
- Don’t drink alcohol for 24 hours after you leave the hospital
IMAGESBrowse through our medical image collection to see illustrations of human anatomy and physiology See Images
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Heart Association. Ablation for arrhythmias. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/arrhythmia/prevention--treatment-of-arrhythmia/ablation-for-arrhythmias
MedlinePlus. Cardiac ablation procedures. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007368.htm
Top How Serious Is a Heart Ablation Surgery? Related Articles
What Is a Coronary Angiogram?Coronary angiogram is an angiogram (an X-ray image of blood vessels filled with contrast material) used to diagnose coronary artery disease responsible for heart attacks, strokes, angina, and other coronary artery diseases. Coronary angiogram assists the physician in diagnosing and recommending treatment for coronary artery disease.
Does COVID-19 Affect My Heart?As per the American Heart Association, COVID-19 may have a long-term effect on the heart. Having a heart condition doesn't make a person more likely to catch COVID-19, but an individual with heart disease or a serious heart condition is more likely to become severely ill from COVID-19 and has a higher risk of death.
Fitness: Exercises for a Healthy HeartRegular exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease. To achieve maximum benefits, do a mix of stretching exercises, aerobic activity, and strengthening exercise. Aim to get 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three to four times a week. Consult a doctor before exercising for the first time, especially if you have health problems.
Heart disease (coronary artery disease) occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the vessels that supply blood to the heart. Heart disease can lead to heart attack. Risk factors for heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history
Angina, shortness of breath, and sweating are just a few symptoms that may indicate a heart attack. Treatment of heart disease involves control of heart disease risk factors through lifestyle changes, medications, and/or stenting or bypass surgery. Heart disease can be prevented by controlling heart disease risk factors.
CAD SlideshowWhat is heart disease (coronary artery disease)? Learn about the causes of heart disease, arrhythmias and myopathy. Symptoms of heart disease include chest pain and shortness of breath. Explore heart disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
Heart Disease QuizTake our Heart Disease Quiz to get answers and facts about high cholesterol, atherosclerosis prevention, and the causes, symptoms, treatments, testing, and procedures for medically broken hearts.
Heart failure (congestive) is caused by many conditions including coronary artery disease, heart attack, cardiomyopathy, and conditions that overwork the heart. Symptoms of heart failure include
- congested lungs,
- fluid and water retention,
- fatigue and weakness, and
- rapid or irregular heartbeats.
There are two types of congestive heart failure, systolic or left-sided heart failure; and diastolic or right-sided heart failure. Treatment, prognosis, and life-expectancy for a person with congestive heart failure depends upon the stage of the disease.
Heart Failure QuizWhat is heart failure? Learn about this dangerous condition, as well as who is at risk, and what to do about it.
Illustrations of the HeartThe muscle that pumps blood received from veins into arteries throughout the body. See a picture of the Heart and learn more about the health topic.
Vitamins & Exercise: Heart Attack Prevention SeriesVitamins and exercise can lower your risk for heart attack and heart disease. Folic acid, vitamins, and homocysteine levels are interconnected and affect your risk for heart disease or heart attack. For better heart health, avoid the following fried foods, hard margarine, commercial baked goods, most packaged and processed snack foods, high fat dairy, and processed meats such as bacon, sausage, and deli meats.
What Is the Ablation Procedure?An ablation procedure is a minimally invasive procedure. It is used to destroy layers of abnormal tissues in various parts of the body using lasers or cold. Ablation can be done for cosmetic reasons (on the skin for brightening, wart removal and tattoo removal) or treating serious disorders (heart ablation to treat abnormal rhythm or uterine ablation for fibroids).