Before Your Procedure

How should I prepare for catheter ablation?

  • Usually, you’ll be asked not to eat or drink anything for at least 6 to 8 hours before the procedure. Tell Dr. Smith about any medicines you take. He may ask you not to take them before your test. Don’t stop taking your medicines until your are told to do so.
  • You will be asked to arrive at the hospital several hours before your scheduled procedure time. Your first stop is usually the Admissions Department. From there you may be asked to go to the Laboratory or to pre admission testing.
  • Once admitted to the hospital, you will be sent to a pre-op area where you will receive an IV line, the nurse will review your entire medical history and a pre-op checklist will be completed.
  • Depending on your procedure, you may be sent for an EKG or TEE (transesophageal echo). The hospital Anesthesia department may also interview you prior to the procedure.
  • Some additional items to consider:
    • Bring a list of all your medications you are currently taking, including doseage.
    • Leave all your jewelry at home.
    • Arrange for someone to drive you home the day after your procedure.

What happens during catheter ablation?

  • The nurse will clean and shave the area where Dr. Smith will be working. This is usually in your groin. You will receive a local anesthetic to numb the needle puncture site.
  • You will receive medicine (anesthesia) to prevent pain. You may also get a sedative to help you relax. Depending on the type of procedure you are admitted for, you may be awake throughout the procedure.
  • Dr. Smith will make a needle puncture through your skin and into the blood vessel (typically a vein, but sometimes an artery) in your groin. A small straw-sized tube (called a sheath) will be inserted into the blood vessel. He will gently guide a catheter into your vessel through the sheath. A video screen will show the position of the catheter. You may feel some pressure in your groin, but you shouldn’t feel any pain.
  • To locate the abnormal tissue causing arrhythmia, Dr. Smith sends a small electrical impulse through the electrode catheter. This activates the abnormal tissue that is causing your arrhythmia. Other catheters record the heart’s electrical signals to locate the abnormal sites.
  • Dr. Smith will place a catheter at the exact site inside your heart where the abnormal cells are. Then, a mild, painless, radiofrequency energy (similar to microwave heat) is sent to the tissue. This destroys heart muscle cells in a very small area that are responsible for the extra impulses that caused your rapid heartbeats.

After your procedure

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Macy C. Smith, Jr., MD, FACC, FHRS