Q:

What happens during atrial flutter ablation surgery?

A:

Quick Answer

Curative ablation surgery for the correction of atrial flutter involves passing thin catheters into an artery or vein of the leg or neck and using X-ray guidance to position them in the heart. This allows a doctor to discover the cause of an abnormal heart rhythm. This surgery is low risk and has a success rate of 97 percent, notes USCF Cardiology.

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Full Answer

Catheter ablation surgery is performed in a hospital's catheter or electrophysiology lab and is conducted by a team of nurses and doctors as outlined by the American Heart Association. First, nurses insert an intravenous line to provide anesthesia, they clean and shave the area where the catheter will be introduced, and then they administer a local anaesthetic to numb the skin. Once the patient is ready for surgery, a doctor makes a needle puncture into the blood vessel of a vein or artery at the surgical site, inserting a small tube known as a sheath into the blood vessel. The doctor then gently guides the catheter through the artery or vein and to the heart while monitoring the catheter's position on a video screen. At this point, the patient may feel some pressure but should not experience any pain.

The doctor inserts several thin electrode catheters through the sheath and into the heart where they emit a small electrical impulse. This allows the doctor to determine where in the heart the abnormal arrhythmia originates. When the exact location of the abnormal cells is determined, the doctor places a catheter in this tissue and destroys it with a small burst of radiofrequency energy. The entire surgery takes two to four hours, and the patient can often go home the same day, according to the American Heart Association.

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