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How can ablation be used with heart problems?

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Ablation treats abnormal heart rhythm, known as arrhythmia, by disconnecting the source of the arrhythmia from the rest of the heart, according to WebMD. A physician performs the ablation procedure using a catheter threaded through a vein to the heart.

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Ablation comes in two forms: nonsurgical and surgical, states WebMD. Nonsurgical ablation corrects many types of arrhythmia. In this procedure a catheter directs energy to the affected area of the heart in order to interfere with the electrical impulses causing the arrhythmia.

Some surgical ablation procedures are minimally invasive, says WebMD. These procedures involve smaller incisions than more invasive techniques such as open-heart surgery. Doctors performing minimally invasive procedures often make use of endoscopes, which are small, lighted instruments containing a camera.

The maze procedure is more invasive and involves open-heart surgery, WebMD writes. Here a surgeon makes small incisions in the heart to interrupt the flow of abnormal electrical impulses. Scar tissue that forms after the procedure prevents these impulses from traveling through the heart.

Physicians use ablation therapy to treat a variety of conditions and disorders, including atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia, WebMD notes. Ablation therapy potentially also reduces the risk of blood clots and stroke in patients with rapid arrhythmia.

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