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Radio Frequency Catheter Ablation

Radiofrequency catheter ablation treatments are used for treating tachycardia. Medical treatment for tachycardia often involves regular intake of medicines/drugs for several years. Drug therapy problems include poor efficiency and some side effects including proarrhythmia. Initially many types of supraventricular arrhythmias can be cured by arrhythmia surgery but since past decade arrhythmia surgery has been largely replaced by catheter ablation. Catheter ablation can be used to treat some types of arrhythmia, a problem with the rhythm or rate of the heartbeat, sometimes both, that are critical for the maintenance of cardiac arrhythmias by destroying small areas of myocardial tissue or conduction system. A long, thin, flexible tube is placed into the blood vessel in arm, groin, or neck. The tube is called an ablation catheter which is guided into the heart through the blood vessel. A special machine called generator is used which send energy through the ablation catheter to the patient’s heart. This energy modifies via heating (radiofrequency) or freezing (cryoablation) small area of heart tissue that is causing irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia). This treatment creates a scar tissue that breaks abnormal circuits in the heart or destroys area of the heart muscle which is initiating arrhythmias.

Doctor may check patient’s medical history, medications that might interfere with ablation treatment, check if the patient has diabetes, kidney problem or other conditions. May also suggest some tests such as

a) Electrocardiogram (EKG) – painless test that records heart’s electrical activity. This test shows rate or rhythm of the heart.

b) Echocardiography – painless test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart and provides information about the size, size and working condition of the heart chambers and valves.

c) Stress testing – patient need to exercise to make heart beat harder and faster which makes it easier to diagnose the heart.

d) Blood tests – thyroid test needs to be done to check overactive or underactive thyroid gland that can contribute to development of abnormal heart rhythm.

Patient will be given a local anesthesia and sedation to ease the discomfort during the procedure. It can uncomfortable experience for some patients as the treatment process may take few hours and patient need to lie down flat and still. When the procedure is done the catheter is removed. While taking out the catheter there may be a small amount of bleeding from that area.

After the procedure, patient may need to stay in the hospital for sometime or may be for one night. He or she may feel tired but can go back to normal routine within few weeks. Ablation treatment may involve a small amount of risk. Some bleeding, bruising, or patient may develop small collection of blood under the skin called haematoma. Consult the doctor immediately in case of red or swollen skin at the wound side, strong or irregular heartbeats or fainting.

Visit doctor after a month or as suggested by doctor for post treatment follow-ups.

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