RFA – Radiofrequency ablation

What is Radiofrequency Ablation?

It is a procedure performed to try and correct an electrical ‘short circuit’ within the heart that causes arrhythmias or abnormal rhythms. Usually radiofrequency energy (low voltage and high frequency) is used. A series of electrical impulses are then delivered to this area of the heart thereby breaking the short circuit. This tissue is then no longer capable of generating or conducting electrical impulses and a normal rhythm can take over.

A series of thin wires and tubes (catheters) are passed up to the heart via the femoral vein located at the top of the leg. These wires are then able to identify and target the electrical ‘short circuit’ in your heart. The procedure is performed under x-ray so the doctor can accurately direct the catheter.

Am I suitable for Ablation?

Not everyone is suitable for ablation. Presently, because it is an invasive procedure, it is reserved for patients who have symptoms that impact significantly on their lives or are resistant to medication. You can discuss the options with your Cardiologist.

What preperation is needed?

You will often be seen in a pre-assessment clinic prior to your procedure, this is a good opportunity to ask any questions then. You will be asked to remain nil by mouth for six hours prior to your procedure.  

Will I fell anything during the procedure?

You may be aware of some discomfort in your chest during the procedure. You should inform a member of the team and they will be able to give you some pain relief or sedation.

What happens after the procedure?

Once the tubes are removed from the top of your leg, manual pressure is applied to the blood vessel for about ten minutes to prevent bleeding.  You will then remain on bed rest, the nurse will inform you how long you will have to remain in bed - this can be for up to four hours.  You will need a friend or relative to collect you and stay with you for 24 hours.  You must not drive for one week.