Possible risks and complications of AV node ablation include a lung puncture, an infection or improper placement of a pacemaker wire, reports Frankel Cardiovascular Center. The pacemaker implantation process during AV node ablation poses a 1- to 2-percent risk of complications.
Most AV node ablation procedures involving pacemaker implantation have high success rates and low risk of severe complications, according to Frankel Cardiovascular Center. AV node ablation often relieves symptoms resulting from a fast, irregular heart rate that can make the heart muscle weaker over time. Patients who undergo the procedure do not have to take medications for preventing atrial fibrillation and regulating the heart rate.
However, AV node ablation does not cure atrial fibrillation and thus causes dependency on a pacemaker throughout a patient's life, states Frankel Cardiovascular Center. The procedure significantly improves heart function and also increases energy level, but not comparable to a normal person's heart function and energy level. Taking a blood thinner may be necessary to prevent strokes.
Doctors perform AV node ablation in patients who are not responsive to medications, who are unable to take medications due to side effects, or who are not qualified candidates for a curative procedure, notes Frankel Cardiovascular Center. AV node ablation involves inserting a catheter into a vein close to the AV node, delivering radiofrequency energy to get rid of the AV node, and implanting a pacemaker that normalizes heart rate.