Catheter ablation is a technique that uses radiofrequency energy (heat) or cryo therapy energy (cold) to destroy small areas of heart muscle that give rise to the electrical signals that cause rapid or irregular heart rhythms.
The energy is delivered through special catheters that are inserted through very large veins in the leg and neck into the heart. With these catheters the heart’s electrical system is mapped out and the problem cells are found and destroyed without harming the rest of the heart.
Most patients check into the hospital for a stay of 1 to 3 days depending on each individual’s health status. You will be asked to arrive earlier than your scheduled surgery time. This allows preparation time for your procedure and allows for your procedure to be performed sooner if the previous case is cancelled.
Note that your surgery could be delayed due to several factors:
- New developments in your health status.
- An emergency case may have to be performed before yours.
- Circumstances that your physician sees as potentially placing you at risk.
Before the Procedure:
You will receive a letter with specific medication and pre-hospital testing instructions prior to your procedure. A visit to our pre-assessment center may be required to perform pre operative testing such as EKG, blood work, physical assessment and medication teaching. This is also a good opportunity to have some of your questions answered.
If you are taking blood thinners (Coumadin/Warfarin) to prevent clots it may be necessary to stop your medication several days before your procedure. Your physician may also require that you have your blood checked every week starting four weeks before your procedure.
To protect you from developing clots you may be required in some cases to use Lovenox. This is a shorter acting blood thinner that is injected under your skin every 12 hours for 2-3 days before your procedure.
For some patients a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) may be ordered prior to the procedure. This is a special echocardiogram that is performed by placing a small probe into the esophagus to evaluate the atrium of your heart to assess for clots. During this test if a clot is found your procedure will be rescheduled.
Day of the Procedure
Take all other medications as prescribed with a small sip of water. If you use inhalers please bring them with you.If you use a CPAP machine for sleep apnea please bring it with you on admission. Do not use any deodorants, creams or sprays that morning. You will need to report to the Admitting/Patient Registration area at Hartford Hospital, Room 128.
At times during very busy admission periods, such as the flu season, there may be a delay in room assignment. You will then be directed to the Nursing Unit.
Your procedure will be performed between the hours of 7am – 5pm. Please keep in mind, due to emergent cases, that the order of cases can change.
Our staff will escort your family to the waiting room near the procedure area. The doctor will update them after the procedure. If they plan to leave a contact number, it should be given to our staff.
After the Procedure
The catheters will be removed and pressure will be applied to the puncture site. You will be taken to a recovery area until you are fully awake from the anesthesia. Once you are taken to your room, your heart rhythm will be monitored and you will be required to remain flat for up to 6 hours after your procedure.
Prior to discharge you will be given instructions that include medication and follow- up appointments. Call our offices if you develop:
- Bleeding from a catheter insertion site
- A catheter insertion site is painful or warm to the touch.
- Shortness of breath or chest discomfort.
- Swelling, cold, numbness, or pain down a leg that catheters were inserted into.
- A skin rash
- A fever of 100 degrees or more
- Symptoms of a rapid heart rhythm.
Important Phone Numbers:
TEL: (860) 545-5000
Heart Rhythm Management
TEL: (860) 545-1506
FAX: (860) 545-3999
Office hours: Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. An answering service is available after hours and can contact the doctor on call.