Cardiac Catheter RF Ablation
Cardiac catheter RF ablation is a curative procedure for well selected patients suffering from atrial fibrillation or a fib (and certain other arrythmias) that is poorly or uncontrolled with lifestyle changes and medication alone. When Afib is first diagnosed, we approach it in a stepwise manner, starting with the least invasive options. This will typically include diet and exercise modifications. Indeed, excess weight and obesity has been linked to de novo and worsened cardiac arrhythmias. Unfortunately, as most of us know, a proper diet and exercise regimen is difficult to maintain over the long term, and many patients require medical treatment in the form of antiarrhythmics and anticoagulants. However, medical treatments also have their downsides. While they can be effective for up to 50% of patients, most patients find that the side effects are significant enough to pursue alternatives.
A minimally invasive solution
Modern catheter technology has allowed us to perform many procedures that once required open surgery, now in a minimally invasive manner. Cardiac catheter ablation is one such procedure. The procedure is performed in a specialized operating room known as an EP lab in a hospital setting. Patients are sedated or given general anesthesia. A small cut is made in the groin and a catheter is threaded up the femoral vein and into the heart. The tip of the catheter uses advanced imaging technology to accurately map the heart’s structures as well as any improper electrical signals causing Afib or other arrhythmias. Once the map is created, the electrophysiologist (EP) begins the ablation, which involves the application of radiofrequency waves to the malfunctioning heart tissue. The heat generated by the device destroys the tissue, eliminating the improper electrical signal and improving the arrhythmia. Multiple areas can be treated during the same procedure. Having a catheter ablation does not preclude further intervention, if necessary, in the future.
The results of cardiac catheter RF ablation
In well selected patients, the success rate of an arrhythmia treated with cardiac catheter RF ablation is higher than 90%. Often, these patients experience complete resolution of the symptoms of Afib, or other arrhythmias, and as a result, reduce their risk of stroke, heart attack and long-term heart failure. Even if the patient does not experience complete resolution of their arrhythmia, they are often able to reduce their dependence on medication and live a more comfortable life.
The risks of cardiac catheter RF ablation
In the hands of an experienced electrophysiologist, the risks of a cardiac catheter RF ablation are relatively low. Some expectations post procedure can include discomfort in the chest, continued arrhythmias for a short amount of time and some bruising and swelling at the incision site in the groin. Less commonly, there is a chance of bleeding, pain, and infection at the incision site. Structural damage to blood vessels and the heart are more serious risks but are very rare. All risks will be discussed during your consultation.
Ultimately, the progression of Afib and arrhythmia treatment toward a procedural solution such as cardiac catheter RF ablation must be discussed with your cardiologist and electrophysiologist. Today, the management of cardiac arrhythmias is safer and more effective than ever before.
The start of a symptom free life begins with a visit to Nevada Cardiology Associates where we can present you with options, including cardiac catheter cryo-ablation, and talk through the benefits and risks of each.