What is cardiac ablation?

Cardiac ablation is a specialist procedure to treat arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythms). 

A thin tube called a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel, usually via the groin, and guided towards the heart using x-ray imaging. Or, sometimes, three-dimensional mapping imaging can be used as an alternative to x-ray imaging, for patients where this is deemed necessary.

Once in place, bursts of high-frequency electrical energy are directed towards the affected area of the heart. This causes scar tissue which cannot transmit electrical activity, effectively destroying its ability to cause abnormal heart rhythms.

Locations where ablation is offered

Royal Brompton Hospital 

Harefield Hospital

What are the benefits of ablation?

A successful ablation procedure may mean that you will be able to stop taking some, if not all, of your anti-arryhythmic drugs and experience fewer or no palpitations at all.

What are the risks of ablation?

All medical procedures can be associated with a degree of risk. The risk of a serious complication (death, stroke, perforation of the heart or vascular injury) is rarely greater than one to two per cent. The risk of damage to your normal electrical system, resulting in the need for a pacemaker, is also rarely greater than one to two per cent. Please note that individual risks may vary and this will be discussed by your consultant both in your outpatient appointment, and before the procedure.

Passing catheters through blood vessels, veins and arteries can cause bruising, swelling and bleeding at the site where the catheter was inserted in the groin. Staff in the catheter laboratory and on the ward will monitor this carefully and help to limit any discomfort that may be caused.

Are there any alternatives to ablation?

You can continue on anti-arrhythmia drug therapy.

For arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) that are brief or temporary, and non-life threatening, patients can be taught certain techniques or ‘manoeuvres’ to slow the heart rate. 

If you do not experience symptoms very often, you can choose to live with your palpitations. 

Surgery may be necessary for patients with very refractory arrhythmias or be offered at the same time as other heart surgery.

Fixed price packages for self-funders

If you prefer to pay for your own inpatient treatment, we offer fixed price packages to help manage the cost of surgery and care while in hospital. As the treatment needs vary from patient to patient, you will need to provide an up-to-date medical report or referral to be reviewed by the agreed consultant.

A complimentary consultation to review this report and any test results you have can be arranged. This will determine whether you are eligible for our fixed package price.

Find out more about fixed price packages