Medically reviewed on July 12, 2017
Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) ablation is a procedure to create scar tissue within the heart in order to block abnormal electrical signals and restore a normal heart rhythm.
SVT ablation is used to treat heart rhythm problems that affect the heart's upper chambers and cause an abnormally fast or erratic heartbeat.
SVT ablation may restore a normal heart rhythm, which may reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Why it's done
SVT ablation may be an option for people with supraventricular tachycardias, including:
- Atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT)
- Atrioventricular reentrant tachycardia (AVRT), including Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, orthodromic atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia and antidromic atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia
- Atrial flutter
- Atrial tachycardia
Depending on your condition, SVT ablation may be one of your first treatment options or it may be reserved as an option when other treatments don't work. Discuss the benefits and risks of treatments, including SVT ablation, with your doctor.
SVT ablation may be an option for children with supraventricular tachycardia. SVT ablation is generally reserved for children who haven't responded to other treatments or those with a high risk of complications related to their heart conditions.
What you can expect
SVT 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 SVT ablation treatment.
Special catheters are used to transmit electrical energy (radiofrequency ablation) or cold (cryoablation) to the target area, causing scarring. The lesions created by ablation are meant to block the electrical signals that are contributing to your arrhythmia.
SVT ablation typically takes three to six hours. Afterward, you'll be taken to a recovery area where your condition will be closely monitored. You'll likely stay overnight in the hospital.
Your doctor will schedule follow-up examinations to monitor your heart. Most people experience an improvement in quality of life after SVT ablation. But there's a chance your fast heartbeat may return. In these cases, the procedure may be repeated or you and your doctor might consider other treatments.