All you need to know about your upcoming Ablation Surgery

 Your Doctor may have told you or mentioned to you that you require or may require ablation surgery to correct an abnormal heart beat or arrhythmia in your heart.

There are many different types of ablation surgery with different risks involved. This article will talk about simple ablation surgery in general terms. Talk to your Doctor about the specific risks for your procedure.  Ablation surgery for heart arrhythmias has become an increasingly more common procedure for the last 20 years and is today a standard routine operation in many hospitals around the world that offer this service.

This procedure is a specialised part of Cardiology and the Doctor undergoing the procedure has many years of specialised training and is known as an Electrophysiologist or the ‘electrician’ of the cardiology field (he/she fixes the electrical problems of the heart). Your procedure will be conducted in a specialised type of operating theatre known as an electrophysiology lab which will have all the equipment needed for your procedure. Ablation surgery will require the Doctor to insert catheters (pacing wires and heating catheters) into a vein in your groin known as the femoral vein. This is the easiest access for these catheters and they will be passed up the large veins in your body and enter the right side of your heart.

You may have up to four wires placed in your heart. These wires monitor and pace different areas of your heart and will allow the Doctor and technician to locate where your arrhythmia is coming from. With this information, they will then use the ablation catheter to heat (burn) the tissue in the heart which is causing the abnormal rhythm. When the correct location is burnt, your arrhythmia will be completely cured! During the procedure there will be a standard testing protocol that will be conducted which will involve your heart being paced and also may involve you being given medication to speed up your heart rate. This may feel uncomfortable and you may feel flushed but it is only temporary and will soon be over. The aim of this pacing protocol is also to put your heart into the arrhythmia you have been experiencing so you may feel the symptoms associated with it.

During the ablation part of the procedure, you may feel a burning sensation in your chest- this is totally normal. After the burning is completed, the pacing protocol will be commenced again to try and induce the arrhythmia. The team will be satisfied that they have burned the arrhythmia away when they can no longer induce it with the pacing protocol. This procedure may take anywhere from 90 minutes to 4 hours depending on how difficult your particular arrhythmia is but rest assured that when the procedure is successful, you will be completely cured of your palpitations and your symptoms will never return. Remember, you are in a very controlled environment with professionals who have many years of specialized experience – you’ll be fine!