Cardiac Ablation

Our heart care experts offer cardiac ablation procedures to treat patients with irregular heartbeats, known as arrhythmias.

About Cardiac Ablation

During a cardiac ablation procedure, a thin, flexible tube, called a catheter, is inserted through a blood vessel and guided to the interior of the heart to treat targeted tissue associated with arrhythmias. The goal of the procedure is to restore normal heart rhythm.

Cardiac ablation is a minimally invasive procedure, which means it’s usually done without surgery.

Types of Cardiac Ablation

  • Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) - During radiofrequency ablation, a catheter is guided to the interior of the heart and heat is used to treat targeted areas in the heart associated with abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Cryoablation (Cryo) - In Cryoablation, the catheter is guided to the interior of the heart and cold is used to treat targeted areas of tissue in the heart associated with abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Pulsed Field Ablation (PFA) - Pulsed field ablation uses non-thermal electric fields to target areas of heart tissue. This new technology is available in certain UnityPoint Health hospitals for patients with atrial fibrillation and is proven to minimize damage to surrounding structures.

Heart Conditions Treated

Cardiac ablation may be an option to significantly improve many types of arrhythmias. These include:

  • Atrial fibrillation (Afib)
  • Atrial flutter
  • Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)
  • Premature ventricular contractions (PVC)
  • Ventricular tachycardia (VT)

What to Expect During Cardiac Ablation

Cardiac ablation procedures are typically performed by an electrophysiologist, a specialized cardiologist who diagnoses and treats issues with the heart’s electrical system, in a cardiovascular lab within the hospital.

Prior to the procedure, patients receive a sedative and pain medications to help with relaxation. The doctor inserts a catheter into a blood vessel and guides it to your heart. The catheter is first used to identify the area causing the arrhythmia. Next, it’s used to treat the area.

Procedure times vary but usually take several hours to complete. The length of the procedure depends on which type is performed and the type of arrhythmia being treated.

Cardiac Ablation Recovery and Risks

Recovery after cardiac ablation depends on the type of procedure. You may feel a little sore and tired afterward. Soreness shouldn't last more than a week. Most people return to daily activities within a few days.

The risks of cardiac ablation also depend on the type of ablation and type of irregular heartbeat being treated. The risks and benefits of ablation procedures are thoroughly discussed with your electrophysiologist upon consultation for the procedure. Your heart care team will work with you to determine and understand what treatment is right for you.

Get Started by Talking with Your Provider

Arrhythmias are diagnosed by a cardiologist after an EKG scan or electrophysiology studies.

If you have an arrhythmia, your cardiologist can discuss treatment options with you, including medications and, potentially, an ablation. Patient who choose to have a cardiac ablation are referred to an electrophysiologist for treatment in the hospital.

If you don’t have a cardiologist, talk to your primary care provider about a referral to see one. Depending on insurance, some people can schedule an appointment directly with a cardiologist.

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