Overview

    Atrial fibrillation ablation is a treatment for an irregular and chaotic heartbeat called atrial fibrillation (A-fib). It uses heat or cold energy to create tiny scars in the heart to block the faulty electrical signals and restore a typical heartbeat.

    Atrial fibrillation ablation may be used if medications or other treatments don't work. Sometimes it's the first treatment for certain patients.

    Atrial fibrillation ablation is most often done using thin, flexible tubes called catheters inserted through the veins or arteries to the heart. Less commonly, ablation is performed during cardiac surgery.

    Types

    1. AV node ablation
    2. Maze procedure

    Why it's done

    Atrial fibrillation ablation is done to reset the heart's rhythm. A health care provider may recommend this type of ablation if you have A-fib symptoms, including a fast, fluttering heartbeat, that hasn't improved with medication or other treatments.

    Risks

    Possible atrial fibrillation ablation risks include:

    • Bleeding or infection at the site where the catheters were inserted
    • Blood vessel damage
    • Heart valve damage
    • New or worsening irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias)
    • Slow heart rate that could require a pacemaker to correct
    • Blood clots in the legs or lungs (venous thromboembolism)
    • Stroke or heart attack
    • Narrowing of the veins that carry blood between the lungs and heart (pulmonary vein stenosis)
    • Damage to the kidneys from contrast dye used during the procedure
    • Death, rarely

    Discuss the risks and benefits of atrial fibrillation ablation with your health care provider to decide whether it's right for you.

    How you prepare

    Your health care provider may order several tests to get more information about your heart condition before your atrial fibrillation ablation.

    You'll need to stop eating and drinking the night before your procedure. Your care provider will tell you how or if you should continue any medications before atrial fibrillation ablation.

    What you can expect

    Before

    Atrial fibrillation ablation is done in the hospital is done in the hospital. A care provider will insert an IV into your forearm or hand and give you a medication called a sedative to help you relax.

    The amount of sedation needed for the procedure depends on your specific arrhythmia and other health conditions. You may be fully awake or lightly sedated, or you may be given general anesthesia (fully asleep).

    During

    One of the following ablation techniques is used to create small scars in the heart and block the irregular heartbeats:

    • Heat (radiofrequency energy)
    • Extreme cold (cryoablation)

    You may feel some minor discomfort when the catheter is moved into your heart or when the dye is injected and when energy is being delivered. If you have severe pain or shortness of breath, let your care providers know.

    The procedure usually takes three to six hours. Complicated procedures may take longer.

    After

    Following your procedure, you'll be moved to a recovery area to rest quietly to prevent bleeding from the site where the catheters were inserted into the blood vessels. Care providers will continuously monitor your heartbeat and blood pressure to check for complications.

    Depending on your condition, you may be able to go home the same day as your procedure. If you go home the same day, plan to have someone drive you.

    You may feel a little sore after your procedure, but the soreness shouldn't last more than a week. You'll usually be able to return to your daily activities within a few days after atrial fibrillation ablation.

    Results

    Most people see improvements in their quality of life after cardiac ablation. But there's a chance that the irregular heartbeats may return. If this happens, the procedure may be repeated or your health care provider might recommend other treatments. The procedure hasn't been shown to reduce the risk of a stroke. Blood thinners may be needed to reduce stroke risk.

    Clinical trials

    Explore Mayo Clinic studies of tests and procedures to help prevent, detect, treat or manage conditions.

    Will an ablation stop AFib?
    Catheter ablation gets rid of heart arrhythmias like AFib, atrial flutter, and supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) for most people. But it could come back within a few years, especially if you're: Older. more
    Can you go back into AFib after ablation?
    Regardless of the monitoring device used, it is essential to remember that afib may still occur after the ablation. Many people experience some atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter after a catheter ablation due to inflammation of the heart tissue. more
    Is ablation A permanent fix for AFib?
    Does Ablation Cure AFib? AFib may go away for a long time, but it can return. It's rare, but if you have persistent or chronic AFib, you might need a second ablation within 1 year. If you've had AFib for more than a year, you may need one or more treatments to fix the problem. more
    How successful is AFIB 2020 ablation?
    “The success rate of a single procedure for recent onset atrial fibrillation is 70-75%. Compare that to the success rate of 30% with drugs. Even if the patient needs a second ablation, it rises to 80-85%, which is much better.” more
    When should you consider ablation for AFib?
    Ablation may be more likely to work long-term if you have atrial fibrillation that has lasted for 7 days or less. It may be less likely to work long-term if you have more persistent atrial fibrillation. Ablation might be a good option for you if you have no other structural problems with your heart. more
    How many times can a person have an ablation for AFib?
    Does Ablation Cure AFib? AFib may go away for a long time, but it can return. It's rare, but if you have persistent or chronic AFib, you might need a second ablation within 1 year. If you've had AFib for more than a year, you may need one or more treatments to fix the problem. more
    How many ablations can you have for AFib?
    Does Ablation Cure AFib? AFib may go away for a long time, but it can return. It's rare, but if you have persistent or chronic AFib, you might need a second ablation within 1 year. If you've had AFib for more than a year, you may need one or more treatments to fix the problem. more
    How successful is ablation for AFib 2021?
    Results from the multicentre investigator-initiated trial found that cryoablation was superior in maintaining freedom from AF, atrial tachycardia and atrial flutter, with 57.1% of patients in the catheter ablation group versus 32.2% in the antiarrhythmic drug group achieving treatment success at 12 months. more
    Does AFib affect eyesight?
    In fact, certain medical conditions, such as atrial fibrillation, may lead to permanent vision problems. September is National Atrial Fibrillation Month, and it's important to be aware of this potentially dangerous condition. more
    Can AFib cause dementia?
    Atrial fibrillation linked to increased risk of dementia, even in stroke-free patients. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is linked to an increased risk of dementia, even in people who have not suffered a stroke, according to the largest study to investigate the association in an elderly population. more
    Do you need a pacemaker after ablation for AFib?
    Results. After AV node ablation, your symptoms and quality of life will likely improve. You will need a permanent pacemaker to control your heart rate, and may need to take blood thinners to reduce your risk of a stroke. more

    Source: www.mayoclinic.org

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