What Happens When I Arrive?
You will lie on a bed, and the nurse will start an intravenous line (IV) in your arm. The IV is used to deliver medications and fluids during the procedure.
A medication will be given through your IV to make you feel drowsy, and you may fall asleep.
Your neck, upper chest, arm, and groin will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution, and the catheter insertion site(s) will be shaved. Sterile drapes will be placed to cover you from your neck to your feet.
How Does The Doctor Insert The Catheters?
After you become drowsy, the doctor will numb the catheter insertion site(s) by injecting a medication.
The doctor will insert several catheters through a small incision into a large blood vessel, and it may be necessary to use both an artery and a vein. A transducer is inserted through one of the catheters so an intracardiac (inside your heart) ultrasound can be performed during the procedure. The ultrasound allows the doctor to view the structures of the heart.
What Will I Feel?
You will feel a burning sensation when the doctor injects medication in the catheter insertion site.
You may feel your heart beating faster or stronger when the doctor uses the pacemaker device to increase your heart rate, and you may feel some discomfort or a burning sensation when the energy is applied.
It is important to remain quiet, keep very still, and avoid taking deep breaths. If you feel pain, ask your doctor or nurse to give you more medication.
How Long Does The Procedure Last?
The procedure may last up to 4 hours.
Will I Have To Stay In The Hospital?
Some patients are sent home the same day, while others stay overnight in the hospital after the procedure.
Your doctor will determine if you need to stay overnight in the hospital.
When Will I Find Out The Results?
After the procedure, the doctor will discuss the results of the procedure with you and your family.
Will I Be Taking New Medications?
You may need to take an antiarrhythmic medication to control abnormal heartbeats. Your doctor will give you the prescriptions and medication instructions you need.
Ask your doctor if you should continue taking your previous medications.
Will I Be Able To Drive Myself Home?
For your safety, a responsible adult must drive you home.
What Are the Possible Risks of the Procedure?
The catheter ablation procedure is generally very safe.
However, as with any invasive procedure, there are risks. Special precautions are taken to decrease these risks. Your doctor will discuss the risks of the procedure.
Before the Procedure
Do not discontinue any of your medications without first talking to your healthcare provider. Ask your doctor which medications you should stop taking and when to stop taking them.
- Stop taking Coumadin (warfarin) three days before your procedure
- Ask your doctor if you should take your other prescribed medication(s)
How to Prepare
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure
- Do not bring jewelry or valuables
After the Procedure
What to Expect After the Procedure
The doctor will remove the catheters and apply pressure to the insertion site to prevent bleeding. You will need to stay in bed 1 to 6 hours after the procedure to prevent bleeding and will need to keep your legs still during this time.
No stitches are needed, but small sterile bandage will cover the insertion site. Keep this area clean and dry. Tell your doctor or nurse right away if you have redness, swelling, or drainage at the procedure site. You can remove the bandage after you go home.
During your recovery, you will be placed on a telemetry monitor, which lets the nurses watch your heart rate and rhythm. Telemetry consists of a small box connected by wires to your chest with sticky electrode patches. The box displays your heart rhythm on several monitors in the nursing unit.
How You Will Feel After the Procedure
You may feel fatigue or chest discomfort during the first 48 hours after the procedure. Please tell your doctor or nurse if any of these symptoms are prolonged or severe.
You may experience skipped heartbeats or short episodes of atrial fibrillation after the procedure. After your heart has healed, these abnormal heartbeats should subside.