Ablation and Treatment Risks

Dr. Atul Verma, MD, FRCPC, Cardiologist, discusses the risks linked to having Ablation therapy done. Southlake Regional Health Centre

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Dr. Atul Verma, MD, FRCPC, Cardiologist, discusses the risks linked to having Ablation therapy done. Southlake Regional Health Centre
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Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Atul Verma, MD, FRCPC, Cardiologist Southlake Regional Health Centre

Duration: 2 minutes, 40 seconds

Let’s talk a little bit about the risks and benefits of the ablation procedure. Let’s start with the risks. Fortunately all of the risks are very low, but there are some that you should be aware of. During the ablation procedure, for example, we could cause a blood clot in the heart, and this could result in a stroke.

That’s why we ask you to take blood thinners up until the ablation procedure, and we also give you extra blood thinners during the ablation procedure. So this risk is 0.2% or less. There’s also a risk that while we’re performing the burning in your heart that we could burn a hole in the heart, and cause bleeding, which might require urgent surgery to fix.

But that’s why we limit the amount of power that we use, and this risk is also less than 0.2%. There’s always a risk potentially of a fatal complication with any procedure that you have performed and ablation is no different. The esophagus, for example, is located very close to the left atrium, and there have been reports of burning in the left atrium causing damage to the esophagus, which could be life threatening. We however take precautions to avoid this from happening, like measuring the temperature in the esophagus, and the risk of a life threatening complication is one in a thousand or less.

In terms of the success rates, the success depends in part on the type of atrial fibrillation that you have. If you’re in and out of atrial fibrillation, which we call paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, your success rate is going to be higher. The chance of eliminating your atrial fibrillation after one attempt at the procedure is about 70 to 75%, and after two attempts at the procedure, 85 to 90%.

If you’re in atrial fibrillation all the time, however, we call this persistent atrial fibrillation, then your success rate is going to be lower. The chance of success after one attempt at the procedure is maybe about 65 to 70%, and after two attempts about 80 to 85%. Still quite good, but lower than the paroxysmal patients.

If you have further questions about your ablation procedure, feel free to ask your physician, nurse practitioner, nurse, or any other member of the atrial fibrillation team.

Presenter: Dr. Atul Verma, Electrophysiologist, Newmarket, ON

Local Practitioners: Electrophysiologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.