Atrial flutter ablation
Medically reviewed on December 30, 2016
Atrial flutter ablation is a procedure to create scar tissue within the right upper chamber of the heart in order to block the electrical signals that cause a fluttering heartbeat.
Atrial flutter occurs when your heart's electrical signals tell the upper chambers of your heart (atria) to beat too quickly. The goal of atrial flutter ablation is to stop the incorrect electrical signals and restore a normal heart rhythm.
Why it's done
Doctors use atrial flutter ablation to control the signs and symptoms associated with atrial flutter. Atrial flutter ablation may restore a normal heart rhythm, which may improve your quality of life.
What you can expect
Atrial flutter ablation is performed in the hospital. You'll receive a medication called a sedative that helps you relax.
Once the sedative takes effect, a small area near a vein in your groin or neck is numbed and catheters are inserted into the vein. Your doctor carefully guides the catheters through the vein and into your heart.
The catheters are equipped with electrodes that are used to record your heart's electrical activity and to send electrical impulses. Your doctor uses this information to determine the best place to apply the treatment. For atrial flutter ablation, the treatment is applied to the right upper chamber of the heart.
Special catheters are used to transmit electrical energy (radiofrequency ablation) to the target area, damaging the tissue and causing scarring. In some cases, this will block the electrical signals that are contributing to your atrial flutter.
Atrial flutter ablation typically takes two to three hours. Afterward, you'll be taken to a recovery area where your condition will be closely monitored. Depending on your condition, you may be allowed to go home the same day or you may spend a night in the hospital.
Your doctor will schedule follow-up examinations to monitor your heart. Most people experience an improvement in quality of life after atrial flutter ablation. But there's a chance that atrial flutter may return. In these cases, the procedure may be repeated or you and your doctor might consider other treatments.