Catheter ablation is a procedure used to
selectively destroy areas of the heart that are causing a heart rhythm problem.
During this procedure, thin, flexible wires are inserted into a blood vessel in
the thigh, groin, neck, or elbow and threaded up through the blood vessel and
into the heart under X-ray guidance. The wires allow the doctor to record the
electrical activity of your heart and determine what kind of heart rhythm
problem you have.
Then, your doctor will find the tiny areas that
are causing the rhythm problem. The wires are used to send energy to those
areas in the heart. This energy is in the form of heat or freezing cold. The
heat or cold destroys, or ablates, the heart tissue. Destroying this tissue can
cure your heart rhythm problem.
It is possible that the main title of the report Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.
Catheter ablation can be called
different names based on the type of energy used to create the heat or cold. If
heat from radio waves is used, it is called radiofrequency catheter ablation.
If cold temperatures are used, it is called cryoablation.
Catheter ablation is done in a hospital where the person can be carefully
monitored. The procedure is done with an
electrophysiology (EP) study, which can identify
specific areas of heart tissue where the fast heart rate may start or where
abnormal electrical pathways are located inside or outside the
atrioventricular (AV) node. This allows doctors to
pinpoint exactly what tiny area of heart muscle to destroy.
local anesthetic is used at the site where the catheter is inserted. The person
usually stays awake during the procedure but may be sedated.
For help on the decision to have catheter ablation, see:
Recovery from catheter ablation is
usually quick. Some people may be hospitalized for 1 to 2 days after the
procedure so doctors can monitor heart rate and rhythm. Many people go home the
Why It Is Done
Catheter ablation is often used for
people with persistent or recurrent fast heart rates that do not respond to
drug therapy, or people with certain types of fast heart rates who do not want
to take medicine.
How Well It Works
Catheter ablation can eliminate
atrioventricular nodal reciprocating tachycardia (AVNRT), a type of
supraventricular tachycardia, in almost all
Catheter ablation is often recommended for people with a
type of atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia (AVRT) called
Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome, especially those
who have severe symptoms or also have
atrial fibrillation or flutter. This procedure can
successfully eliminate WPW most of the time. There is a small risk of the
arrhythmia recurring even after successful ablation of WPW. But a second
session of catheter ablation is usually successful.
Catheter ablation is considered safe.
It has some
serious risks, but they are rare. They include:
fistula. In this life-threatening condition, a hole forms between the heart's
upper chamber and the esophagus.
Death (very rare).
You will have to decide whether the possible benefits of
ablation outweigh these risks. Your doctor can help you decide.
In catheter ablation for atrioventricular nodal reentrant
tachycardia (AVNRT), damage to the heart's conduction system requires a
permanent pacemaker in about 1 out of 100 people.1 With other
types of supraventricular tachycardia, where the abnormal cells are not close
to the heart's normal conduction system, there is almost no risk of needing a
Blomström-Lunqvist C, et al. (2003). ACC/AHA/ESC
guidelines for the management of patients with supraventricular
arrhythmias-Executive summary: A report of the ACC/AHA/ESC Committee for
Practice Guidelines. Circulation, 108(15):
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
John M. Miller, MD - Electrophysiology
August 9, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
August 09, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this