Ablation procedure and its effectiveness in cardiac problems
Cardiac ablation is a medical procedure that is used for correcting abnormal heart rhythm and heart rhythm-related undesired issues (arrhythmias). The process works by severely scarring or destroying tissue(s) in the heart, responsible for sustaining or triggering any abnormal heart rhythm. In some scenarios, the procedure even prevents arrhythmia by disallowing abnormal electrical signals to enter the heart. Thus, it has shown signs of being a treatment in many several cardiac-related problems.
In some cases, the procedure is done by means of open-heart surgery. However, in most cases, catheters are used. These tubes are inserted via an artery or vein in the groin and threaded to the heart for delivering energy in the form of extreme cold or heat. Catheters make the procedure less invasive, in addition to decreasing recovery times. Before discussing the effectiveness of ablation in heart rhythm problems, let’s look into the answer for “what is an ablation procedure?”.
When your heart beats, the electrical impulses (responsible for contraction of the heart) need to follow a precise pathway. A single interruption in these continuous complex impulses may result in arrhythmia. The ablation procedure is used to treat this undesirable condition and correct the abnormality in heartbeats.
Ablation isn’t the first treatment that a person suffering from abnormal heartbeats might receive. The complex medical procedure is applied to people who have:
- A high risk related to arrhythmias, including sudden cardiac arrest
- Certain types of arrhythmias, including supraventricular tachycardia and Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which respond positively to ablation procedure
- Suffer from serious side effects because of medication for treating arrhythmias
- Have tried arrhythmia medication to no avail
Effectiveness of ablation procedure in cardiac problems
Among numerous medications available, the major factor about each one of them is their effectiveness. There have been several types of research and research work on ablation procedure for its use in medical treatments. Among all of its applications, ablation offers an incredible medical performance in cardiac problems. Several types of research present ablation as a successful recovery treatment for those suffering from atrial fibrillation (AFib).
According to a recent research study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Annual Scientific Session, patients suffering from serious cases of heart failure and AFib underwent treatments in two groups. One group was treated with catheter ablation while the other one with a heart rhythm regulation drug. Those treated with ablation showed positive results of surviving death, were not required to be hospitalized and did not have recurrent cases of AFib.
In a recent study, about 71 percent of the total patients treated with catheter ablation showed no signs of AFib.
How is the procedure carried out?
There are two methods used for the complicated process of ablation:
- Cryoablation: Makes use of cold temperatures
- Radiofrequency ablation: Uses heat energy for eliminating the problematic area
The type selected for carrying out the procedure depends on the type of abnormal heart rhythm. These complex heart rhythm correcting operations are carried out under the supervision of cardiologists with assistance from nurses and technicians to keep the risk to a minimum. A sedative is given to the patient to relax during the complex procedure.
The steps associated with the process of a typical ablation procedure are:
- The skin on the arm, neck or groin is sanitized, followed by making it numb using an anesthetic.
- The doctor will then make a small cut or incision in the skin.
- Using the cut, a catheter (a flexible, small tube) is inserted into one of the many blood vessels in the associated area.
- Live X-ray imagery is used by the doctor to guide the catheter into the heart carefully.
- Once the catheter or catheters are in place, the doctor will place small electrodes in several areas of the heart.
- The electrodes are connected to monitors that allow cardiologists to identify the specific problem-causing area or areas within the heart.
- Upon successfully finding the problematic area or areas, electrical or cold energy is sent by means of one of the catheter lines.
- It creates a small scar that results in eliminating the heart rhythm problem.
Typical symptoms experienced during the procedure
Some of the common symptoms felt during catheter ablation are:
- Brief burning during injection of medicines
- Burning (when electrical energy is used)
- Faster/stronger heartbeat
Catheter ablation is a fairly extensive procedure. It can take as long as four or maybe more hours to complete. The heart is continuously monitored during the entire procedure, and a continuous check is done by trained nurses during the procedure for monitoring any abnormal symptoms.