Doctors perform a cardiac ablation, which involves scarring tiny portions of the heart, to treat heart rhythm problems that medications cannot control, explains MedlinePlus. It is essential to treat these rhythm problems, as they can be life-threatening if left untreated.
Qualified cardiologists who specialize in electrophysiology typically perform cardiac ablations, adds MedlinePlus. Before the procedure, the patient receives a mild sedative to make him calmer. After cleaning certain parts of the body and numbing them with an anesthetic, doctors make a small incision in the patient's skin and insert a flexible tube, called a catheter, into a blood vessel. They then use live X-ray images to maneuver the catheter carefully into the heart.
Next, doctors insert small wires, known as electrodes, into various areas of the heart to measure the organ's electrical activity, explains MedlinePlus. The electrodes connect to monitors, allowing cardiologists to know which parts of the heart are responsible for the abnormal heart rhythm. After identifying the sources of the problem, doctors use a catheter line to deliver electrical energy to these areas. The process creates a small scar that resolves the heart rhythm problem.
Cardiac ablation often lasts up to four hours or more, notes MedlinePlus. Patients need to rest in bed for one to six hours after the procedure. Common symptoms that occur in the days following the procedure include tiredness, an aching chest and skipped heartbeats.