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Atrial Fibrillation Ablation

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Understanding Atrial Fibrillation Ablation

Atrial Fibrillation Ablation represents a cutting-edge treatment strategy for an irregular and often rapid heart rate condition known as Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). The procedure utilises heat or cold energy to generate small scars in the left upper chamber of the heart, effectively disrupting the errant electrical signals and restoring a regular heartbeat.

This procedure becomes a vital treatment choice when medications or other therapies fail to manage the condition effectively or to avoid taking powerful and toxic anti-arrhythmic medications. In some cases, it may even be the initial line of treatment for certain patients. Atrial Fibrillation Ablation is typically performed using slender, flexible tubes, known as catheters, which are inserted through the veins leading to the heart.

Seeking the right medical expertise is crucial for such intricate procedures to avoid stroke and heart failure. Dr Karthigesan brings to the table a rich blend of experience and skill in performing Atrial Fibrillation Ablations, backed by an unwavering commitment to patient-centred care. Trust in his expertise to guide you on your journey towards heart health and rhythmical living.

A pictorial illustration of Atrial Fibrillation Ablation.
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A close-up image of Atrial Fibrillation Ablation with catheters.
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Types of Atrial Fibrillation Ablation

Catheter Ablation for AFib, executed using either Radiofrequency or Cryo energy, has consistently demonstrated superior effectiveness compared to drug therapies in managing Atrial Fibrillation.
Radiofrequency Ablation
Leveraging advanced 3D mapping technologies such as the CARTO or ENSITE system, this Atrial Fibrillation Ablation procedure precisely delivers RF energy to the targeted area. These innovative technologies not only enhance the accuracy of energy delivery, down to 1mm precision but also notably reduce radiation exposure for patients. For cases of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, Radiofrequency Ablation carries an impressive success rate of 80-85%.
Cryoballoon Ablation
A variation of cryo catheter ablation, Cryoballoon Ablation utilises cryo (freezing) energy as opposed to heat. This technique precisely deactivates the heart tissue responsible for irregular heartbeats. For paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation cases, Cryoballoon Ablation boasts a success rate of around 85%.

Assessment Prior to Atrial Fibrillation Ablation

To accurately diagnose AFib or rule out other conditions presenting similar symptoms, Dr Karthigesan may recommend several tests. These diagnostic procedures may encompass:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)/Holter monitoring
  • ELR monitoring
  • Transthoracic or transesophageal echocardiogram
  • Cardiac CT
  • Blood tests (to test thyroid levels, for instance)
  • Coronary angiography
A clear illustration of catheter ablation for Atrial Fibrillation.
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Atrial Fibrillation Ablation Procedure

  • During the Atrial Fibrillation Ablation procedure, specialised wires, also known as electrical catheters, are placed in the heart through a groin vein and occasionally via a neck vein. More than one catheter may be required.
  • In the case of RF Ablation, the sensors at the tip of the catheter apply heat energy. In the case of Cryoballoon Ablation, the balloon will deliver cold energy. Either of these is then used by the doctor to create small scars around the heart to neutralise abnormal electric signals.
  • Scarring is achieved through a process of small burns or freezes. In the burning process, a technique called radiofrequency energy is employed, using heat to scar the tissue. Conversely, the freezing process involves a method known as cryoablation.
  • This scarring process serves to prevent the heart from transmitting the irregular electrical signals responsible for atrial fibrillation.
  • RF Ablation typically takes an average of three to four hours to complete. Cryoballoon Ablation takes around two hours to complete. In cases of recurrent atrial fibrillation, further ablation procedures may be necessary.

What to Expect Before/During/After the Procedure

  • You will be advised about the medications to discontinue, typically around 5 days prior to your procedure.
  • If you're on any other blood thinners, they should be ceased around 24-48 hours before the procedure, as per your doctor’s instructions.
  • You will undergo a CT scan of your heart a day prior to the procedure.
  • Additionally, an ECG and blood tests will be conducted to ensure your overall well-being.
  • It is important to fast for at least six hours before the procedure.
  • Depending on your health status, you might be awake with light sedation or placed under general anaesthesia during the procedure.
  • Dr Karthigesan will administer local anaesthesia in your groin. This way, you will not feel any pain when inserting the catheter since the area will be desensitised.
  • If necessary, a mild sedative will be administered through an intravenous line(IV).
  • Following the procedure, it's necessary for you to rest and lie flat for about 4-6 hours.
  • It's common to experience a sore throat and mild chest discomfort post-procedure. This should gradually subside.
  • You may also notice some discomfort and bruising in the groin area and occasionally in the neck area if the vein there was accessed. This is a normal part of the healing process.
  • It's crucial to avoid strenuous physical activity for a few days following the procedure, allowing your body the necessary time to recover.
  • For your safety, refrain from driving for at least 48 hours after the procedure.

Risks & Benefits of Atrial Fibrillation Ablation Procedure

  • Although rare, complications such as blood vessel damage, bleeding, or infection can occur. Nevertheless, the risk of these occurrences is very low.
  • The procedure duration typically ranges from two to four hours, making it a relatively quick treatment.
  • It is typically an outpatient procedure, allowing patients to be discharged on the same day or after a brief overnight stay for monitoring.
  • It helps to avoid serious complications like stroke and heart failure.
  • It helps to avoid taking strong and toxic antiarrhythmic medications.
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Transform Your
Health with
Atrial Fibrillation Ablation
With a success rate of 70 to 80%, Atrial Fibrillation ablation is offering a beacon of hope for those with irregular heartbeats. Utilise its potential today and embrace a healthier heart.

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Catheter Ablation for AFib - Your Queries Answered

The comprehensive process of catheter ablation, encompassing preparation, procedure execution, and catheter removal, usually spans around 3-4 hours in total.

Post-procedure, patients may intermittently experience episodes of atrial fibrillation during the initial three months, even while on medication. This period allows the development of scar tissue, leading to the full effect of the procedure. However, for a majority of patients, these sporadic episodes subside eventually.
Certain patients might need one more procedure. This determination is generally made after the 3-month follow-up consultation, providing ample time for healing post the first procedure.
The catheter ablation process typically causes transient and mild discomfort. In many cases, patients experience minimal or no pain during the ablation.
Provided your occupation doesn't involve heavy lifting or intense physical labour, you should be able to return to your workplace approximately five to seven days post-procedure. It is recommended to abstain from strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for at least a week.
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