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Cardiac Ablation


A cardiac ablation is a procedure to treat an arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm. Your heart rhythm is controlled by electrical pathways in your heart. During cardiac ablation, energy is sent to the area of your heart that has an electrical problem. The energy causes a tiny area of the heart muscle to scar. This stops the electrical problem and allows your heart to beat regularly.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Blood thinner medicine will be given through your IV to prevent blood clots.
  • Anesthesia medicine will make you comfortable during the surgery. Healthcare providers will work with you to decide which type of anesthesia is best for you:
    • Local anesthesia is a shot of medicine to numb the surgery area. Local anesthesia allows you to be fully awake during the surgery or procedure. You may feel pressure or pushing, but you will not feel pain.
    • Monitored anesthesia is medicine given through an IV. This medicine keeps you comfortable, relaxed, and drowsy during the surgery or procedure.
    • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Healthcare providers may give you anesthesia through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. You may have a sore throat from the tube when you wake up.

During your procedure:

  • One or more catheters will be put into a blood vessel in your groin or neck. X-rays will be taken to help your surgeon guide the catheter through your blood vessels to your heart. You may also have an electrophysiology study. This is a test used to map the electrical pathways in your heart that control your heart rhythm. It helps your surgeon find the exact spot where the ablation needs to be done.
  • After the catheter is placed, small amounts of energy will be sent to the tip of the catheter. This will form a small scar line to prevent extra heartbeats.
  • When the procedure is done, the catheters will be removed, but the sheaths (outer tubes) may be left in until the blood thinner has worn off.

After your procedure:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. They will check the catheter insertion site regularly for bleeding. You will also have EKG monitoring done to check your heart rate and rhythm. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay.

  • Spirometry is a small device used to help keep your lungs clear. Breathe in with slow, deep breaths through the mouthpiece. Do this several times an hour as directed by your healthcare provider.
  • Rest and keep your leg straight for up to 6 hours, or as directed. Your healthcare provider will then ask you to walk, to prevent blood clots from forming.
  • Medicines:
    • Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. A clot can cause a life-threatening problem, such as a stroke or heart attack.
    • Antiarrhythmics help slow your heartbeat and make it more normal.
    • Pain medicine takes away or decreases pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a healthcare provider when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.
    • Steroids decrease inflammation.
    • Antiulcer medicine helps decrease the amount of acid that is normally made by the stomach. You may need to take this medicine to help the lining of your stomach heal or prevent an ulcer.


  • The catheter may cause bleeding around your heart, or damage your esophagus, stomach, or nerves. The veins that carry blood from your lungs to your heart could become narrowed. You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. The clot may travel to your heart or brain and cause life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack or stroke. Even with treatment, your heart rhythm problem may come back, or you may need another procedure.
  • If you do not have an ablation, your heart rhythm problems may become life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.