Catheter Ablation

Catheter ablation is a procedure that uses radiofrequency (extreme heat) or cryo (extreme cold) to destroy a small area of heart tissue that is causing an irregular heart rhythm. Destroying this tissue helps restore your heart's rhythm back to normal.

Catheter ablation is performed through a flexible tube called a catheter that is inserted into a blood vessel typically in your groin. The physician will insert a small straw like sheath to gently guide the catheter through the blood vessel and up into your heart. You may feel some pressure in your groin, but you shouldn't feel any pain.

To locate the abnormal tissue causing the irregular rhythm, a video screen shows the position of the catheter and the physician will send small electrical impulses through the catheter. This activates the abnormal tissue that is causing your heart’s irregular rhythm. The physician then places the catheter at the exact site inside your heart where the abnormal tissue is, then destroys the abnormal tissue that is responsible for causing your irregular heart rhythm.

There are two types of catheter ablation: Radiofrequency and Cryo.

Radiofrequency (RF) Ablation uses radiofrequency (extreme heat) that is directed at the abnormal heart tissue. The physician uses the catheter to send radiofrequency energy (similar to microwave heat) that makes circular scars around a vein or group of veins within the abnormal tissue.

RF AblationCryoablation technology uses extreme cold to freeze the abnormal heart tissue. The physician uses a catheter tipped with a material that freezes the tissue to cause a scar. This method adds an additional tool for performing ablations and can reduce procedure times. Cryoablation is the primary method used for pediatric ablation cases because it is considered a safer, and a somewhat reversible treatment for younger patients.

cryo ablationCatheter ablations usually takes 2 to 4 hours. If you have more than one area of abnormal tissue, the procedure may take longer. You can usually go home the same day, but on occasion a patient may have to stay overnight.