Ablation is a relatively non-invasive procedure that involves inserting catheters-narrow, flexible wires – into a blood vessel in the groin or neck, and advancing the wire into the heart. The journey from entry point to heart muscle is navigated by images created by a fluoroscope, and x-ray-like machine that provides continuous, “live” images of the catheters and body.
Once the catheter reaches the heart, electrodes at the tip of the catheter gather data and a variety of electrical measurements are made. The data pinpoints the location causing the arrhythmia.
During this “electrical mapping” the doctor may sedate the patient and induce the very arrhythmias that are the crux of the problem. The even are safe, given the range of experts and resources close at hand, and are necessary to identify the precise location of the problematic tissue.
Once the source of the arrhythmia is confirmed, energy is used to destroy that tissue, ending the disturbance of the electrical flow through the heart and restoring a healthy heart rhythm. This energy may take the form of radiofrequency energy, which cauterizes or burns the tissue.
Ablation is used to treat Atrial Fibrillation, Atrial Flutter, AV nodal Reentrant Tachycardia, Wolf Parkinson White Syndrome, and Atrial Tachycardia. For many types of arrhythmias, catheter ablation is successful in 90-98% of cases.