Cardiac ablation, also called catheter ablation, can help correct heart arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), including atrial fibrillation (AFib). Your doctor may recommend cardiac ablation if medicine doesn’t control your heart rhythm problem or you are in danger of experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.
Ablation uses either heat or cold (gentle burning or freezing) to treat small areas of heart muscle that are causing your abnormal heart rhythm.
Cardiac ablation, also called cardiac catheter ablation, is minimally invasive, meaning there is a lower risk for complications and you may recover more quickly.
During catheter ablation, your doctor threads catheters through a blood vessel in your groin, neck or arm and guides them to your heart. Your doctor then sends energy pulses through the catheters to remove the heart tissue that is causing the arrhythmia.
While we are doing catheter ablation, we may also recommend a minor procedure called hybrid ablation. We can perform the hybrid ablation procedure at the same time as your catheter ablation, which may improve your results.
Aurora Health Care performs more catheter ablation procedures each year than any other health system in Wisconsin. Our extensive experience helps us continually improve our treatment process. You can expect:
Learn more about cardiac electrophysiology at Aurora.
To determine whether ablation might help control your heart rhythm problem, your doctor will evaluate you thoroughly. In addition to reviewing your medical history and doing a full physical exam, your doctor may order these tests:
Learn more about heart and vascular testing and diagnosis at Aurora.
Your doctor will give you personalized instructions on how to prepare for ablation treatment. They may include:
Your ablation procedure will take place at an Aurora hospital, in one of our electrophysiology labs.
Depending on the specific procedure you’re having, it can take up to six hours. Your doctor will let you know if you can go home the same day, or whether you’ll need to stay in the hospital for a few days to recover.
Although every ablation procedure is unique, you can generally expect:
We’ll monitor you after we finish with the ablation process to make sure we’ve corrected all the arrhythmias.
After we remove the catheters and cover the insertion sites with sterile bandages, you’ll need to stay in bed for several hours at the hospital. We’ll continue to watch your heart activity and make sure you’re recovering well.
Your doctor will also talk to you and your family about the ablation procedure results.
We’ll give you detailed instructions about your home care after your ablation procedure. However, our general guidelines include the following:
Depending on the results of your ablation procedure, you may still need to take medication to help control arrhythmias. Some people may need repeat cardiac ablation treatment at some point. Your doctor will let you know what to expect over the long term.