Various types of tachycardias, or fast heart beats, can be treated with catheter ablation. In this procedure, the source of the arrhythmia is very precisely identified and the very small area of heart muscle that gives rise to the abnormal electrical signals is destroyed. A long, thin, flexible tube, called an ablation catheter, is put into a blood vessel in the patient's arm, upper thigh or neck. It's then guided to the damaged area of the patient's heart through the blood vessel.
Radiofrequency energy, similar to microwave heat, is deployed to disrupt tissues that trigger the abnormal electrical signals responsible for the irregular heartbeat. This energy finds and destroys the small area (about 1/5 of an inch) of heart tissue where abnormal heartbeats may cause an arrhythmia to start.
Catheter ablation is an effective and safe procedure with a success rate of more than 90%. It has a low risk of complications and is done under mild sedation with local anesthesia.
Patients undergoing catheter ablation report little or no discomfort during the procedure and can resume their normal activities within a few days.