Catheter ablation

Catheter ablation is a procedure that treats heart rhythm problems by destroying tiny areas of heart tissue that are causing the problems. Guided by X-rays, the doctor inserts thin tubes called catheters into a blood vessel in the thigh, groin, neck, or elbow and feeds them up into the heart.

Wires in the catheters help the doctor identify the type of rhythm problem and find the problem areas. Then the doctor uses the wires to send energy—heat or freezing cold—to those areas. The energy destroys, or ablates, the tissue. After it's destroyed, the tissue can no longer cause a problem. The areas of tissue are very tiny, and destroying them does not affect the heart’s ability to do its job.

Last Updated: August 28, 2009

Author: Cynthia Tank

Medical Review: Martin Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & John M. Miller, MD - Electrophysiology

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