What is Ablation Therapy?
Catheter ablation is a minimally-invasive procedure that is generally less invasive than surgery. It is done on a beating heart in a closed chest procedure. It is a commonly-used treatment for atrial fibrillation as well as other cardiac arrhythmias. Like other atrial fibrillation treatments, it is most successful in treating paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, but much progress has been made in treating persistent and longstanding persistent atrial fibrillation as well.
During the ablation, Dr. Smith inserts a thin, flexible catheter into the heart. A special machine delivers energy through the catheter to specific areas of the heart muscle that cause the abnormal rhythm. This energy “destroys” the pathway of the abnormal rhythm. Ablation can also be used to disconnect the electrical pathway between the upper chambers (atria) and lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart. The type of ablation performed depends upon the type of arrhythmia.
Radiofrequency ablation can have a success rate of over 90 percent, depending on your particular rhythm. It has a low risk of complications and the patient can resume normal activities in a few days. It causes little or no discomfort and is done under mild sedation with local anesthesia. For these reasons, it’s now widely used and is the preferred treatment for many types of rapid heartbeats.
The catheter uses an energy source, such as radiofrequency energy (radio waves), cryothermy (intense cold), or laser energy (light waves), to create a lesion of scar tissue, called a conduction block, that stops the erratic electrical signals from traveling through the heart.
Catheter ablations usually take 1 to 3 hours. If you have more than one area of abnormal tissue, the procedure will take longer. After your ablation, you will most likely spend one night in the hospital before being discharged.
Dr. Smith Performing Cardiac Ablation
Schedule a Consultation
For more information on ablation therapy and to see if this is the right treatment for you, call 205.510.5000 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Macy C. Smith