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What can I expect during a catheter ablation to treat atrial fibrillation (AFib)?

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A nurse will weigh you, give you a physical exam, take your medical history, ask you about all the medications you take, and test your blood for levels of blood thinner drugs.

Your anesthesiologist will also examine you, ask you about your medical history, and talk to you about your anesthesia for the ablation. You will be given anesthesia to put you to sleep during the ablation. It is not a painful procedure.

You will lie on a surgical table for your ablation. A nurse will attach electrocardiogram (EKG) electrode patches onto your back and chest. Wires attached to the electrodes will send signals to computers to guide your doctor during your ablation.

If your skin has hair, a small area may be shaved where the catheter, a type of tube, goes in. It will usually go in through a blood vessel in your groin at the top of your legs, or sometimes in your neck.

Once your surgeon puts the catheter into your blood vessel, he will guide it into the inside of your heart. He will use ultrasound to see where it's going.

Your doctor will use the end of the catheter to zap the spots in your heart that cause trouble. Afterward, the electrical current in the heart should be fixed and blood should flow normally.

SOURCES:  

Cleveland Clinic: “Pulmonary Vein Ablation Procedure,” “After Catheter Ablation.” Massachusetts General Hospital of Harvard Medical School: “Patient Guide to Catheter Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation.” American Heart Association: “Non-surgical Procedures for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib or AF).” Hospital for Special Surgery: “Anesthesiology: Frequently Asked Questions.” Heart Rhythm Society: “Types of Ablations.” NIH: “What Is Catheter Ablation?”









Reviewed by Suzanne R. Steinbaum on July 25, 2017

SOURCES:  

Cleveland Clinic: “Pulmonary Vein Ablation Procedure,” “After Catheter Ablation.” Massachusetts General Hospital of Harvard Medical School: “Patient Guide to Catheter Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation.” American Heart Association: “Non-surgical Procedures for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib or AF).” Hospital for Special Surgery: “Anesthesiology: Frequently Asked Questions.” Heart Rhythm Society: “Types of Ablations.” NIH: “What Is Catheter Ablation?”









Reviewed by Suzanne R. Steinbaum on July 25, 2017

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