Catheter ablation is a procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to remove a small area of heart tissue that is causing rapid and irregular heartbeats.
Catheter ablation is used to treat abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) when medicine no longer works. This heart ablation procedure takes place in a special hospital room called an electrophysiology (EP) lab or a cardiac catheterization (cath) lab. It takes around 2 to 4 hours to complete.
What happens during heart ablation surgery?
The patient is awake throughout the procedure but is put under anesthesia and may also be provided with medicine, sedative, to help relax. The doctor injects a needle through the skin, typically in the groin area, and into the blood vessel. A small tube (called a sheath) will be inserted into the blood vessel. The doctor will gently guide a catheter into the vessel using the sheath.
Then, the doctor inserts several long, thin tubes with wires, called electrode catheters, through the sheath and feeds these tubes into the heart.
The doctor then sends a small electrical impulse through the electrode catheter to determine where the abnormal tissue is that is causing arrhythmias. Once the doctor finds the right area, he/she places the catheter at the site and sends a mild, painless, radiofrequency energy to the tissue. This destroys heart muscle cells in a very small area (about 1/5 of an inch) that are responsible for the extra impulses that caused rapid heartbeats.
Learn more about catheter ablation.