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Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances) and Radiofrequency Ablation

Written by ColleenO, FoundHealth.

Sometimes, when abnormal electrical circuits in the heart generate harmful rhythms, they can be located and destroyed through an ablation procedure. Ablations are most frequently used to treat arrhythmias such as atrial flutter, especially if other treatment methods have been unsuccessful.

Effect of Radiofrequency Ablation on Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)

An ablation procedure helps treat certain arrhythmias by finding the origin of the abnormal signals and then using a cauterizing current or a burst of radiofrequency energy to destroy the tiny area that is malfunctioning. The heart is then more able to beat according to healthy, normal signals.

Read more details about Radiofrequency Ablation.

Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have ablation, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Discomfort
  • Bruising or bleeding
  • Infection
  • Lung collapse upon insertion of the probe (when the procedure involves the lung, liver, or upper kidney)
  • Blood clots or damage to heart muscle or conduction pathways after procedures on the heart
  • Liver abscess (small, localized collection of pus within a cavity left by the destroyed tissue)
  • Damage to tissue surrounding the target area

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Bleeding problems
  • Active infection

Call Your Doctor

After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
  • Cough, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or chest pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

In case of an emergency, CALL 911.

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