EP Lab & RF Ablation

EP LAB & RF ABLATION

Overview

The human body is an extremely complex machine that works on razor sharp precision and synchronization of all the systems within the body. One of the most complicated organs responsible for maintaining the entire machine working is the human heart. It works on extremely short and rhythmic electrical pulses that keep it working. It is of paramount importance that the rhythm of the heartbeats is maintained precisely to keep the heart and hence the human body working.

Any irregularity in the heartbeat is called arrhythmia and demands immediate attention. There are different types of arrhythmia that have different types of treatment. The study of the electrical signals in the heart to check for arrhythmia is known as Electrophysiology Studies. The EP Studies may reveal the arrhythmia and its nature (too fast – tachycardia or too slow – bradycardia).

If the arrhythmia cannot be treated by medication, or the patient has developed side effects for arrhythmia medication, the cardiologist may choose to go for cardiac ablation instead. There are also certain specific types of arrhythmia that respond much better to EP ablation. 

The cardiac ablation is generally performed together with the electrophysiology studies with the help of catheters and hence is referred to as catheter ablation. There are two main methods of performing catheter ablation

  • By using Radiofrequency (RF) to introduce heat to the problem area
  • By Cryo-ablation, i.e. using extremely cold temperature to treat the problem area.

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The way a catheter ablation surgery is done is to use one or more catheters to study the abnormal rhythms of the heart and the causes for the same. The following causes may lead to arrhythmia

  • AVNRT – short circuit in the heart leading to extremely fast heartbeats
  • Accessory Pathway – abnormal pathway leading the upper chambers of the heart to the lower ones
  • Atrial fibrillation – irregular heartbeat in the upper chambers of the heart
  • Ventricular tachycardia – dangerously fast arrhythmia starting in the lower chambers of the heart

During the cardiac ablation procedure, the cardiologist identifies the root cause of the arrhythmia and destroys it by applying one of the two types of energy (RF or Cryo). The procedure is time taking (nearly 3-6 hours) and may cause minor discomfort. Let your doctor know if you feel any discomfort during the ablation procedure.

Catheter ablation is generally a safe procedure but like any other medical procedure, it carries its own set of risks.

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