Treating Heart Arrhythmias With Ablation
What Happens After Surgical Ablation?
If your ablation surgery was combined with valve, bypass, or another surgical procedure, your post-procedure care may be different.
After surgical ablation:
- The patient is usually transferred to an intensive care unit (ICU) for close monitoring for about one to two days after the surgery. When the patient's condition is stable, he or she is transferred to a regular nursing unit (called a telemetry unit).
- The monitoring during recovery includes heart, blood pressure, and blood oxygen monitoring and frequent checks of vital signs and other parameters, such as heart sounds.
- Most patients stay in the hospital about 5 to 7 days after the procedure, depending on their rate of recovery. Patients who had minimally invasive surgery may be able to go home 2 to 3 days after surgery. Your health care team will follow your progress and help you recover as quickly as possible.
- Full recovery from surgery takes about 6 to 8 weeks. Most patients are able to drive in about 3 to 8 weeks after surgery. Your health care team will provide specific guidelines for your recovery and return to work, including specific instructions on activity, incision care, and general health after the surgery.
- Many patients may experience skipped heartbeats or short episodes of atrial fibrillation during the first three months after the procedure. This is common due to inflammation (swelling) of the heart tissue and is treated with medications. After the heart has healed, these abnormal heartbeats should subside.
- A small number of patients require a pacemaker after surgery due to an underlying abnormal rhythm which previously was undetected.
Medications after surgery may include:
- Anticoagulants (blood thinners), such as Coumadin, to prevent blood clots.
- Antiarrhythmic medication to control abnormal heartbeats.
- Diuretics to reduce fluid retention.
Your doctor will monitor your recovery and determine when or if these medications can be discontinued.