Catheter ablation is a common procedure for treating arrhythmia — an abnormal heart rhythm that can cause the heart to pump less effectively.
How catheter ablation works:
- During ablation, a doctor inserts a catheter (thin, flexible tube) into the heart.
- A special machine delivers heat (radio frequency ablation) or cold (cryothermal ablation) energy through the catheter to tiny areas of the heart muscle that cause the abnormal heart rhythm.
- This energy destroys (or ablates) the small piece of heart tissue causing the abnormal rhythm.
What does catheter ablation treat?
AV nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT): An extra pathway that lies in or near the AV node, which causes the impulses to move in a circle and re-enter areas it already passed through. This is the most common form of supraventricular tachycardia in teenagers and young adults.
Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) from an accessory pathway: Extra pathways can exist from birth that connect the atrium and ventricles. The extra pathway may allow electrical signals to travel between the atrium and ventricle rapidly. This is frequently the cause of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) in babies and young children, especially in those who also have Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) and atrial flutter (AFL): Extra signals originating in different parts of the atrium cause the atria to beat rapidly (atrial flutter) or quiver (atrial fibrillation).
Ventricular tachycardia: A rapid, potentially life-threatening rhythm originating from impulses in the lower chambers of the heart. The rapid rate prevents the heart from filling adequately with blood so that less blood is able to circulate through the body.