Radiofrequency Ablations

What are the risks of and potential complications during catheter ablation

Because ablation procedures require the insertion of catheters into the body, they do involve some risk. Some patients can have bleeding, swelling, or bruising where the catheters were inserted. Serious complications do sometimes occur. These include infection, damage to the heart or blood vessels, and blood clots. Death is very rare during these procedures. It is also possible that the heart”s normal electrical system could be damaged during this procedure. If this occurs, an artificial pacemaker implant may be necessary. Most patients who undergo catheter ablation do not experience complications, but you should be aware of the risks. If you have any questions about potential risks or your particular condition, ask your physician.

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What is radiofrequency ablation?

Radiofrequency refers to the energy (which is like microwave heat) that is applied to the heart to eliminate the portion of tissue that is generating or conducting inappropriate electricity, causing an arrhythmia. The delivery of RF energy causes resistive heating of a narrow rim of tissue in direct contact with the electrode at the tip of the catheter. Lesion size is determined by the balance between conduction of heat through the tissue and convective heat loss to the blood pool. Current ablation systems allow for temperature-controlled energy delivery and rapidly curtail energy delivery for an temprature rise. Newer technical modifications, such as a larger distal electrode and saline-cooling of this electrode, have helped to minimize impedance rises and to allow creation of larger and deeper lesions.

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What are the potential benefits of ablation procedure?

Catheter ablation can permanently cure your arrhythmia. In many cases, it has allowed patients to avoid taking medications while they resume a normal, active lifestyle.

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