Catheter Ablation

The Catheter Ablation procedure eliminates the cells that cause an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. The specially trained heart doctor, an electrophysiologist, will insert thin, flexible wires (called electrode catheters) into a blood vessel in your groin or neck.  To locate the arrhythmia, the doctor will create an electrical map of your heart through an electrophysiology study. The doctor will use the map as a guide to locate the arrhythmia and direct the electrode catheter to destroy the problem cells.

How to prepare

You will likely be advised to cease or alter your heart rhythm medications for a short while before your procedure. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions. If you are allergic to any medications, please tell your doctor. Also, be sure to:

  • Tell your doctor about all of your prescription and over-the-counter medications, which include herbs, supplements, vitamins, insulin, and blood thinners.
  • Have any routine tests (such as blood tests) recommended by your doctor.
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight on the evening prior to your procedure.
  • Arrange for a family member or friend to drive you home following the procedure.

What to Expect

Catheter Ablation usually takes between 2-4 hours. You will receive medication to prevent pain and to help you relax or sleep during your procedure. During the procedure, catheters are inserted through your vein or artery and are guided to the heart with the help of x-ray monitors. When the procedure is complete, catheters are taken out of your body, and pressure is applied to the puncture sites to help them close. Stitches are not necessary. You may need to lie flat for 2-6 hours while the insertion sites close.  Most patients will return home the same day of the procedure, and others stay overnight in the hospital. It is wise to avoid running, heavy lifting, and other strenuous activities for a brief time. You can probably return to your normal routine after a few days.

Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization involves the insertion of a flexible tube (called a catheter) into the coronary arteries. This procedure allows your doctor to measure pressures inside the heart and capture images of the arteries carrying blood to the heart. This procedure also evaluates how well the heart is pumping.

How to prepare

It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions. If you are allergic to any medications or iodine, please tell your doctor. Also, be sure to:

  • Tell your doctor about all of your prescription and over-the-counter medications, which include herbs, supplements, vitamins, insulin, and blood thinners.
  • Take medications as advised by your doctor. You may be prescribed new medications, or you may be asked to cease current medications prior to the procedure.
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight on the evening prior to your procedure.
  • Arrange for a family member or friend to drive you home following the procedure.

What to Expect

Cardiac Catheterization usually takes between 20 minutes and one hour. You will remain awake during the procedure. You will be given a mild sedative to help you relax. During the procedure, long, thin plastic tubes (catheters) are threaded to the heart, usually beginning in the groin area. An iodine-based x-ray dye is injected into the coronary artery and its branches. Simultaneously, x-ray pictures of the arteries are taken. When the procedure is complete, the tubes will be removed, and nurses will apply pressure to the puncture area. You will need to lie flat for a few hours while the insertion sites close. Most patients will return home the same day of the procedure.