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Radiofrequency Ablation for Arrhythmia

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The image illustrates the Radio frequency Ablation for Arrhythmia with catheters.
Image Credit: mayoclinic.org
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Catheter Ablation Arrhythmia ‑ An Overview

Sometimes, your heart arrhythmia diagnosis may call for a more intensive treatment when medication and other options aren’t successful or lifelong medication is not recommended. In such cases, Dr Karthigesan may suggest radiofrequency catheter ablation to improve your condition.

What is radiofrequency catheter ablation all about? This is a minimally invasive treatment option where a small keyhole is made to guide a small catheter or tube into your heart. Radiofrequency energy is passed through this catheter to destroy selected heart tissue areas.

Radiofrequency used for this procedure is a moderately intense, high-frequency electric current that causes a small area of the heart to become hot, causing it to be ablated or cauterised. For years, surgeons have relied on RF energy to cut body tissues and cauterise bleeding during surgeries.

The RF used to cure arrhythmias are particularly low in frequency and is completely safe for the heart. It will not cause any long-term complications.

Fortunately, with Dr Karthigesan as your cardiologist, you can rest assured that your RF ablation procedure will encounter no such problems. As a Certified Electrophysiology Specialist (CEPS), Dr Karthigesan has performed over 3000 successful RF procedures. Under his care, you will get the best guidance and treatment.

The bisection image of the heart with the radio frequency Ablation with catheters.
Image Credit: heart.org
A vector illustration of the Radio frequency Ablation of cardiac Arrhythmia.

RF Catheter Ablation: Types of Arrhythmias Treated

  • Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia [PSVT]
  • Atrial flutter
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • Ectopic or missed beats

Pre-evaluation Tests for RF Ablation

Dr Karthigesan may recommend several tests to understand your arrhythmia better before performing a radiofrequency catheter ablation. He may recommend standard blood tests, an ECG (electrocardiogram), and an echocardiogram recording. You may also be asked to follow these instructions:

  • Stick to the recommended diet at least 24 hours prior to your procedure.
  • Avoid eating or drinking for 6-8 hours before the procedure.
  • Inform your doctor about any medications you are taking.
  • Avoid taking your medications before the procedure when asked to.
  • Continue with the prescribed medications until the recommended time.
An image showing a heart displayed on a digital tablet with an ECG report printout and a stethoscope.
Decorative red spiral.Decorative blue spiral.
The image of a Radio frequency Catheter Ablation procedure.
Image Credit: bhf.org.uk

Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation: The Procedure

  • Before the procedure begins, 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).
  • Once the sedative takes effect, Dr Karthigesan will commence the EP study procedure by making a small prick in the groin region. He will then access your heart by inserting three or four catheters into your blood vessels. Sometimes, these catheters may be inserted through your neck or shoulder blood vessels.
  • The doctor will insert a straw-sized tube or a sheath into your blood vessel and guide the catheter through the sheath. A video screen will be used to follow the catheter position. In this stage, you may feel a bit of pressure in your groin, but you will not feel any discomfort.
  • Several more electrode catheters or thin wire tubes will be fed through the sheath into your heart.
  • After the EP study, electrical impulses will be sent through one of the electrode catheters to locate and activate the damaged tissue causing the arrhythmias. Other catheters will be used to locate similar sites.
  • Once the sites are located, the RF ablation catheter will be placed exactly where the abnormal cells are located and a very mild radiofrequency energy will be sent to the tissue. These painless impulses destroy the abnormal muscle tissue causing your rapid heartbeats.
  • The entire procedure may last for two hours or less. Depending on your recovery from the procedure, you will be allowed to return home or be asked you to stay overnight.

What to Do Before, During & After RF Ablation?

  • A series of tests will be conducted, and the procedure will be explained to you in detail.
  • You will be asked to sign a consent form that signifies you are aware of the risks associated with the procedure.
  • Ensure that you inform your doctor whether you are allergic to any particular medication.
  • Talk to an anaesthetist about the kind of anaesthesia you will undergo.
  • Avoid eating or drinking anything for at least 4 hours prior to the procedure.
  • Discuss your medication with your doctor in case you are diabetic because going without food for four hours or more may affect your blood sugar levels.
  • Before the procedure commences, a nurse will insert a cannula or a small needle in your vein to administer medication.
  • The electric impulse from the tip of the catheter will be inserted into your heart to record it and identify the abnormal tissues that causes arrhythmias and ablate them. This part of the procedure is called Electrophysiology or EP study.
  • You may feel a small amount of discomfort when the catheter is placed into your heart and when the energy is delivered.
  • Ensure that you inform your doctor immediately whenever you are experiencing extreme pain or breathing difficulties.
  • Once the procedure is complete, you will be closely monitored in a special recovery room. Depending on your post-procedural condition, Dr.
  • Karthigesan will decide whether you can go home or if you have to recover at the hospital.
  • Have a friend or relative drive you back home after your procedure.
  • It is normal to expect some soreness after the procedure. However, it is no cause for worry. You will feel alright in a week.
  • Although you may return to your routine after a few days, it is advisable to avoid lifting heavy objects for at least a week.

Radiofrequency Ablation for Arrhythmia

  • Catheter ablation is the most effective method of treating and curing cardiac arrhythmias, removing the need for lifelong medical treatment.
  • Catheter ablation improves your life expectancy, making your family happier and your workplace more productive.
  • Certain ventricular arrhythmias are effectively treated with catheter ablation, giving patients hope for a long-term recovery.
  • Healthcare and other expenses are reduced because of the therapy’s curable nature.
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Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation: Queries & Answers

Age does not play a major role in RFA because the procedure is widely used to treat men and women of all ages- from paediatric to geriatric.
Yes, it is a minimally invasive procedure, but not surgery. In other words, RFA is performed so that it only causes tiny scars in the heart tissue to neutralise the abnormal electrical production. The small prick made during the procedure are smaller and not as deep as surgical keyholes. The small bruises caused by it will be healed within one or two days.

You may experience a bit of pain when a small prick is made in the groin area during the procedure. However, Dr Karthigesan may administer a local anaesthetic to numb the area. During the procedure, you might feel a tickling sensation in your groin area. After that, you will not feel any sensation at all, and you will be completely comfortable.

Not really. In some cases, there might be small bruises in the groin area. But it will be completely healed within 2 days. So, it is recommended that you refrain from involving in any strenuous activities for 2 days.

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