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catheter ablation

overview

In catheter ablation, your doctor threads thin tubes (catheters) through one of your blood vessels to your heart, then sends energy through the catheters that destroys (or ablates) tissue that is causing abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). It’s usually done if you have an arrhythmia that medicine can’t control, or if your doctor thinks it will protect you from sudden cardiac arrest .

what to expect

Depending on how complex your ablation is, you’ll have general anesthesia or local anesthesia with light sedation. 

Your doctor will insert a short, hollow plastic tube (introducer sheath) into a blood vessel in your leg, arm or groin, then guide catheters through it to your heart using a special X-ray machine. You’ll have a small puncture mark, but no incision.

Catheter ablation takes 1 to 6 hours.

recovery

In some cases, you’ll go home the same day. If you do, you’ll need a friend or family member to drive you. In other cases, you’ll spend a few days recovering in the hospital.

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