Physicians at NewYork-Presbyterian can often cure arrhythmias by interrupting the path of the electrical impulses that produce them using a technique called catheter ablation. Using this nonsurgical approach, our cardiologists can often treat supraventricular arrhythmias (including atrial fibrillation) and ventricular arrhythmias.
Performed in a cardiac electrophysiology laboratory, catheter ablation causes less discomfort and results in faster recovery than open-heart surgery. These procedures are highly effective, with success rates often greater than 90 percent for most arrhythmias. They are associated with a low risk of complications, and typically require less than a 24-hour hospital stay.
During catheter ablation, electrode catheters are inserted through veins and guided to various positions inside the heart. Using these catheters, radiofrequency energy or freezing temperature is applied to the abnormal electrical pathway in the heart tissue. This interrupts the path of the abnormal electrical impulses, curing the arrhythmia.
With some ablation procedures, in addition to using x-ray equipment to guide the catheter, physicians may also use miniaturized ultrasound equipment so an echocardiogram can be obtained from a catheter within the heart to provide a more complete and precise picture of the cardiac anatomy.
NewYork-Presbyterian cardiologists often use computerized three-dimensional mapping systems to help guide the procedure and can integrate data obtained during catheter ablation with data from pre-procedural CT scans or MRI images.