Atrial flutter ablation

Atrial flutter ablation is a procedure to create scar tissue within an upper chamber of the heart in order to block the electrical signals that cause a fluttering heartbeat.

Atrial flutter occurs when your heart's electrical signals tell the upper chambers of your heart (atria) to beat too quickly. The goal of atrial flutter ablation is to stop the abnormal electrical signals and restore a normal heart rhythm.

Why it's done

Doctors use atrial flutter ablation to control the signs and symptoms associated with atrial flutter. Atrial flutter ablation may restore a normal heart rhythm, which may improve your quality of life.

What you can expect

Atrial flutter ablation is done in the hospital. You'll receive a medication called a sedative that helps you relax.

Once the sedative takes effect, a small area near a vein, usually in your groin, is numbed.

The doctor inserts a long flexible tube (catheter) into the vein. He or she carefully guides the catheter into your heart.

Sensors on the tip of the catheter send electrical impulses and record your heart's electricity. Your doctor uses this information to determine the best place to apply the ablation treatment.

Heat (radiofrequency energy) is applied to the target area, damaging the tissue and causing scarring. The scarring helps block the electrical signals that are causing your atrial flutter.

Atrial flutter ablation typically takes two to three hours. Afterward, you'll be taken to a recovery area where doctors and nurses will closely monitor your condition.

Depending on your condition, you may be allowed to go home the same day or you may spend a night in the hospital.

Results

Your doctor will schedule follow-up examinations to monitor your heart. Most people see improvements in their quality of life after this type of cardiac ablation, but there's a chance your atrial flutter may return. If this happens, the procedure may be repeated or you and your doctor might consider other treatments.