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London Heart

Ablation

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What is ablation?

Ablation, also known as catheter ablation, is a minimally invasive procedure that works by carefully interrupting the abnormal electrical signals in your heart through heat or by freezing. It involves using radio frequency energy or freezing to resolve abnormal heart rhythm. 

Catheter ablation is used to treat the following heart conditions:

It is a suitable option if medicine has not been effective or tolerated.

How is a catheter ablation procedure performed?

Ablation techniques vary depending on the condition. The most common technique used to treat atrial fibrillation usually involves passing a thin, floppy wire (catheters) via the vein in the leg. The femoral vein acts like a motorway and runs up from the leg all the way to the heart. Here, the catheter records the electrical activity and once the source of the abnormality is found, radiofrequency energy is delivered through the catheter to block the abnormal electrical signals.  

 The procedure usually takes around between 1-2 hours to perform so it may be carried out under general anaesthetic. 

Cryoballoon ablation involves passing a balloon from the vein in the leg to the top left chamber of the heart. The balloon is inflated and freezing is used to prevent the abnormal electrical signals from entering the heart.

Does ablation work straight away?

You may still have symptoms, such as palpitations in the weeks following  the procedure . For some ablation techniques you will need to wait three months to see if the treatment was successful. 

What are the risks involved in cardiac catheter ablation

Ablation procedures are generally very safe. Risks vary depending on the procedure and can include bleeding and bruising in the leg, bleeding around the heart and a small risk of requiring a pacemaker. ,stroke or requiring emergency surgery.

As the procedure is minimally invasive involving no surgery, patients normally make a quick recovery and are usually up and walking within a few hours. Patients should avoid heavy lifting for up to two weeks and should not drive for the first two days.

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