Radiofrequency ablation, or cardiac ablation, is a minimally invasive procedure that destroys heart cells that send abnormal electrical impulses to the heart. This procedure is used to treat a wide array of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats).
At St. Joseph's Heart & Vascular Institute, experienced cardiologists offer personalized care to evaluate, diagnose, and treat heart problems with radiofrequency ablation in the Central California region. To schedule a consultation to see cardiac ablation is right for you, Find a Dignity Health Doctor.
Why Radiofrequency Ablation is Performed
If you have an irregular heart rhythm, it means that some cells in your heart (called pacemaker cells) are sending abnormal electrical signals across your heart. These improper signals can cause an arrhythmia, such as atrial fibrillation (AFib). Your doctor may recommend a procedure such as radiofrequency ablation to help restore a normal rhythm in your heart.
What to Expect from Radiofrequency Ablation
Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that will be performed at Dignity Health’s St. Joseph's Medical Center by one of our expert cardiologists. The procedure lasts about four hours. However, you should plan to spend all day at the hospital. You’ll be given anesthesia to make you sleep.
During the procedure, your doctor will insert a thin, flexible tube (catheter) into a large blood vessel in your groin, arm, or neck. The catheter will be fed toward your heart, allowing your doctor to assess the electrical activity in your heart and find the cells that are causing the irregular heart rhythm.
When the abnormal cells are located, a special catheter tip that generates heat energy will be applied to the cells. You may feel a slight burning sensation as the heat destroys these cells. This is normal, and you shouldn’t feel any pain.
Radiofrequency Ablation Recovery
Once the procedure is over, you’ll stay in the recovery area for one to six hours or more. During this time, pressure will be applied to the puncture site in your groin, arm, or neck to help it seal. You may be able to return home the same day. Someone will need to drive you home.
Your care team will provide clear instructions on how to care for your incision and what kinds of activities are safe to perform while you recover. Radiofrequency ablation may correct your heart arrhythmia forever, or you might need ongoing treatment and monitoring.
St.Joseph's Heart & Vascular Institute performs diagnostic procedures, such as radiofrequency ablation, throughout Central California.