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Cath Lab Procedure

- Electrophysiology

Ablation for supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome

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 usually quite a quick procedure which takes place under local anaesthetic. You will be asked to lie on your back in the catheter laboratory room. You will receive an injection of local anaesthetic in your groin. A small tube will be inserted into the vein of your groin which will be moved via the vein into the right side of your heart guided by x-ray . The tube has a sensor at the tip which is able to measure the electrical impulses of the heart (known as an EP study). 

Sometimes the EP study is the only part of the test that occurs. However, in most studies the ‘short circuit’ causing your SVT is identified by the EP study and your doctor will proceed to the second part of the procedure known as the ablation procedure. During the ablation procedure the doctor will use a heat from the tip of the tube (catheter) and apply it to the area of the heart where the ‘short circuit’ originates. For the few seconds the heat is applied you may experience slight discomfort but your doctor will talk you through exactly what is happening throughout the procedure. Once the ablation has taken place the tube will be removed from the heart and mild pressure will be applied to your groin where the keyhole procedure was performed.

Ablation for SVT and WPW syndrome is generally considered to be a safe and effective procedure and often provides a cure for the problem. The procedure usually takes 1-2 hours with discharge the same day. Common complications include bruising and minor bleeding at the site where the tube is inserted into the groin. Rare complications include damage to the heart (cardiac tamponade) and damage to the natural pacemaker cells of the heart which could require a pacemaker.

Main points:

1. A procedure usually performed as a day case under local anaesthetic and sedation.

2. Wires are passed to the heart from the leg, allowing your doctor to make an electrical map of the heart.

3. If an area of the heart responsible for a short-circuit is identified, this can be targeted with the aim of curing an arrhythmia.

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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