Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jan 4, 2024.
Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) ablation is a treatment for irregularly fast or erratic heart rhythms that affect the heart's upper chambers. It uses cold or heat energy to create tiny scars in the heart. The scars block faulty electrical signals and restore the heart rhythm.
Why it's done
A healthcare professional may recommend supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) ablation if you have a condition that causes a fast and erratic heartbeat, such as:
- Atrial flutter.
- Atrial tachycardia.
- Atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT).
- Atrioventricular reentrant tachycardia (AVRT).
Types of AVRT include:
- Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.
- Orthodromic atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia.
- Antidromic atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia.
Depending on the type of irregular heart rhythm, SVT ablation may be one of the first treatments. Sometimes it's done when other medicines or treatments don't work. Together, you and your healthcare team can talk about the benefits and risks of SVT ablation.
SVT ablation may be an option for children with SVT who have a high risk of heart-related complications. It also may be an option for children with SVT whose condition hasn't improved with other treatments.
What you can expect
SVT ablation is done in the hospital. Before the procedure, you usually get a medicine called a sedative that helps you relax.
A member of your care team shaves any hair from an area, usually in the groin area, and then numbs the area.
The doctor makes a small cut to reach a blood vessel in the numbed area. The doctor inserts a long flexible tube called a catheter into the blood vessel. The catheter is gently guided to the heart.
Sensors on the tip of the catheter send electrical signals and record the heart's electricity. Your healthcare team uses this information to learn the best place to apply the ablation treatment.
One of the following ablation methods are used to create small scars in the heart and block irregular heart rhythms.
- Extreme cold, called cryoablation.
- Heat, called radiofrequency energy.
SVT ablation takes about 3 to 6 hours. When it's done, you go to a recovery area where a care team watches your condition. You usually stay overnight in the hospital.
Most people see improvements in their quality of life after SVT ablation. But there's a chance the fast heartbeat may return. If this happens, the procedure may be repeated or your healthcare professional might recommend other treatments.