What is ablation?

No one has yet found the perfect cure for irregular heartbeats, such as atrial fibrillation. However, a non-surgical, catheter-based technique called ablation performed at Munson Medical Center has about an 80 percent long-term success rate in eliminating the condition.

How is an ablation performed?

This procedure takes place in a special hospital room called an Electrophysiology Lab. It takes 2 to 4 hours.

A specially-trained cardiologist guides a catheter with an electrode at its tip to the area of heart muscle where the damaged site is located. A mild, painless radiofrequency energy (similar to microwave heat) is transmitted to the site. Heart muscle cells in a very small area (about 1/5 of an inch) die and stop conducting the extra impulses that caused the rapid heartbeats.

How effective and safe is this procedure?

Ablation has a short-term success rate of more than 90 percent, a low risk of complications, and patients can resume normal activities in a few days. It sometimes takes two procedures to achieve long-term results. Ablation causes little or no discomfort and is done under mild sedation with local anesthesia. For these reasons, it's now widely used and is the preferred treatment for many types of rapid or irregular heartbeats.

Follow-up care

Most people can return to their normal activities on the day after they leave the hospital. Follow the instructions your nurse or doctor gives you.

  • Don’t drive for 24 hours after you leave the hospital.
  • Don’t drink alcohol for 24 hours after you leave the hospital.
  • Avoid heavy physical activity for three days. Ask your doctor when you can return to strenuous exercise.
  • A small bruise at the puncture site is normal. If the site starts to bleed, lie flat and press firmly on top of it. Have someone call the doctor or hospital.

Heart Services Are Nearby

If you have any symptoms of heart attack or stroke, call 911. Do not drive yourself to the hospital. EMTs can begin life-saving care immediately before you reach the hospital.

For more information, contact your primary care provider or Traverse Heart and Vascular at 800-637-4033.