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Cath Lab Procedures

- Electrophysiology


These are procedures that take place in the catheter laboratory under local anaesthetic and sometimes with the addition of sedation administered into a vein. The procedure can be a day case procedure or sometimes requires an overnight stay. This procedure is performed if you have an issue with the electrical functioning of the heart.

The ablation procedure is slightly different depending on the underlying condition that is being treated.

Some examples of these procedures are described below.

This is a procedure that is usually performed for those with new or quite recent onset atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is a condition where the heart beats erratically (more information can be found on the atrial fibrillation section). 

Cardioversion is a technique where electrical energy is delivered to the heart which ‘resets’ the natural heartbeat in the heart. It is a day case procedure usually performed under a very brief general anaesthetic or occasionally after sedation. You will be asked to get dressed into a surgical gown and sit on a trolley. Two sticky pads (about the side of your palm) will be attached to your torso, usually with one on the front of your chest over your breastbone and one on your back in between the shoulder blades. A drip will be inserted into your arm. Further electrical wires will be attached to your chest to monitor your heartbeat and a clip (saturation probe) placed on your finger. You will often be given some oxygen via a facemask. You will then be asked to lie down on the trolley and will fall off to sleep under the anaesthetic.


Whilst you are asleep your Healthcare Professional will deliver some energy via the pads on the chest to reset the heart. After a few minutes you will wake from the anaesthetic and be able to go home a few hours later. A heart tracing (ECG) will usually be performed before you are discharged to check whether the procedure was successful and your medication may be altered.


Cardioversion is usually a safe and straightforward procedure and usually has a success rate of around 60-70% (6 to 7 in every 10 people), although over years there is often a tendency for you to develop atrial fibrillation again. The procedure usually lasts around 30 minutes. 


Complications of the procedure can include mild skin irritation (like a sunburn), abnormal heart rhythms (dealt with immediately at the time of the procedure) and the risks of a general anaesthetic. There is a small risk of stroke which is not due to the procedure itself but due to the fact the top chamber of the heart is ‘stunned’ after the procedure. This risk of stroke is minimised by ensuring that you take blood thinners for a period of time before and after the procedure. For this reason it is very important that you ensure that you have taken all doses of blood thinners advised and tell your Healthcare Professional if you have missed any doses, as they may decide to postpone the procedure to ensure your safety. 

Main points

1.  A treatment used to reset heart rhythm problems, such as atrial fibrillation

2. Usually a day case procedure

3. Performed under a general anaesthetic

You should always talk to your healthcare team about any procedure you're going to have and make sure it is right for you.

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Nurse And Patient
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