What should you expect?
Lab work that must be completed includes Basic Metabolic Panel, CBC with platelets and differential and PT/INR. This is often done in the hospital on the day of your procedure but may need to be done before. If you take medicines to control your heart rhythm please check with your doctor to see if you need to stop taking them. Most patients who have ablations will need to be off their heart rhythm medications for 5 days.
If you take medications for diabetes, please do not take them on the day of the procedure. If you use Regular Insulin do not use it on the morning of the procedure. Do not use powder or lotion on your body for 24 hours before the procedure. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure. You may have small sips of water with any medicines you take in the morning. Please make arrangements for
transportation home. You will not be able to drive for 2 days.
During the ablation, an IV will be placed into a vein in your arm and you will be connected to a heart monitor, automatic blood pressure cuff, and a machine to measure your oxygen level. The nurse will give medication in the IV that will make you drowsy and relaxed. You will be awake enough to breathe on your own and respond to questions but most patients say they don’t remember anything about the procedure at all.
The doctor will numb the spot in your groin where the catheters will be inserted into the vein. Usually both groins are used. These special catheters are used to "map" or trace the electrical conduction system in your heart. When the abnormal electrical pathway has been identified, a catheter that can become hot at its tip will be placed at the position to destroy the small area of tissue that contains the abnormal pathway. This causes scar tissue, which cannot transmit electrical impulses. The abnormal pathway can no longer conduct the abnormal heart rhythm. This procedure can take several hours. During the procedure you may develop some back discomfort because of having to lie still for a long time. You may also have some discomfort during the ablation itself. If so, the nurse will give you pain medication.