Catheter ablation is an effective way to manage SVT. Age and comorbidities influence the management options. Procedural success is estimated at 90-98% depending in the subtype and requirement for repeat procedure varies between 2 and 10%. Please refer to the catheter ablation section for general information about the admission process and requirements.
What are the risks of having an SVT ablation?
They include but are not limited to the following.
Common risks and complications (more than 5%) include:
- Bruising bleeding at the puncture site. Bruising can extend beyond the puncture site and can take a few weeks to improve in some cases.
Uncommon risks and complications (0.5- 5%) include:
- Major bleeding related to the groin puncture site or injury to an artery in the groin. This (rarely) may need surgery and or blood transfusion.
Rare risks and complications (less than 0.5%) include:
- A stroke. This may cause long term disability (0.1%)
- Requirement for a pacemaker following the procedure (0.2%)
- Injury to the food pipe related to the ultrasound used during the procedure.
- Injury to the urinary tract if a urinary catheter is required for the procedure.
- Blood clot in the leg (DVT) causing pain and swelling. In rare cases part of the clot may break off and go to the lungs called pulmonary embolus.
- Death because of this procedure is rare
What happens during the procedure?
Procedure maybe performed under sedation or general anaesthesia depending on a few factors. It is not uncommon to start the procedure under minimal sedation before making you more comfortable. Local anaesthetic is administered at the groin which numbs the area. Three small tubes called sheaths are passed into the vein in the right groin through which catheters are inserted and gently passed up until they reach your heart. An X-ray machine guides the catheters to your heart. If required, a special ultrasound camera called a trans oesophageal echo (TOE) probe maybe advanced via your mouth into your oesophagus (gullet) that sits next to your heart. This is used when the SVT involves the left atrium. The TOE is used to guide the wires across from the right side to the left atrium (LA) through a thin membrane called the interatrial septum. A long needle is used to get access across the septum. Additional blood thinners are given to thin the blood further to prevent a stroke in selected cases. A mapping catheter maybe used to make a 3-D model which identifies the structures of relevance. An ablation catheter is advanced into the atrium that delivers ablation to the relevant site.
The catheter ablation procedure can take 1-2 hr or more in some cases. In some cases, additional unexpected rhythms become apparent. Your doctor will proceed to further ablation if required to prevent you having to return for a second procedure.
What happens after an ablation?
At the end of your procedure, your doctor will remove the catheters and apply pressure, followed by a dressing. You may have a little device applying pressure at the puncture site for a few hours. You’ll be watched closely in a recovery area, and depending on how you feel, you might need to rest in bed for a while. You will be admitted to the ward for observation overnight with rhythm monitoring. You may be required to lay flat on your back for about 4 hours after your procedure. People are usually discharged the next day.
What happens after discharge?
- An appointment will be made for you to be seen in clinic about 2 months after the procedure
- If you do not receive a date for an appointment within 8 weeks, please call the clinic and ask to speak to the secretary
- Continue your medications as instructed. If you are uncertain about your medications, please ring the rooms for clarification
- Your SVT medications are generally discontinued
- Avoid strenuous exercise for 1 week
- Start with gentle exercise after 3-4 days – e.g. walking.
Symptoms to monitor:
- It is not uncommon to have a bruise at the groin that extends / spreads after the ablation. This usually resolves over time without any other problems.
- It is rare to have severe bleeding from the puncture site once you are at home. If bleeding does occur you must: lie flat, apply pressure to the site for 10 minutes. If it continues, call an ambulance for assistance.
Please contact the rooms if you have any questions or concerns at any time.
In recommending this procedure your doctor has balanced the benefits and risks of the procedure against the benefits and risks of not proceeding. Your doctor believes there is a net benefit to you going ahead. This is a very complicated assessment.
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