Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) ablation uses cold or heat energy to create tiny scars in the heart to block faulty electrical signals and restore the heart rhythm.
SVT ablation is used to treat heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) that affect the heart's upper chambers and cause a fast or erratic heartbeat (supraventricular tachycardia).
Why it's done
Your health care provider may recommend SVT ablation if you have a condition that causes a fast and erratic heartbeat, such as:
- Atrial flutter
- Atrial tachycardia
- Atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT)
- Atrioventricular reentrant tachycardia (AVRT)
- Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
- Orthodromic atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia
- Antidromic atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia
Depending on the type of heart rhythm problem, SVT ablation may be one of the first treatments. Sometimes it's done when other medicines or treatments don't work. Together, you and your health care provider can talk about the benefits and risks of SVT ablation.
SVT ablation may be an option for children with supraventricular tachycardia who have a high risk of heart-related complications or whose condition hasn't improved with other treatments.
What you can expect
SVT ablation is done in the hospital. Before the procedure, you'll likely receive a medication called a sedative that helps you relax.
A care provider shaves any hair from an area, usually in the groin area, and then numbs the area.
The doctor makes a small cut to access a blood vessel in the numbed area, and inserts a long flexible tube (catheter) into the vein. The catheter is gently guided up to the heart.
Sensors on the tip of the catheter send electrical impulses and record the heart's electricity. The doctor uses this information to determine the best place to apply the ablation treatment.
A doctor will choose one of the following ablation techniques to create small scars in the heart and block irregular heart rhythms.
- Extreme cold (cryoablation)
- Heat (radiofrequency energy)
SVT ablation takes about three to six hours. Afterward, you'll be taken to a recovery area where care providers will closely monitor your condition. You'll likely stay overnight in the hospital.
Most people see improvements in their quality of life after SVT ablation. But there's a chance the fast heartbeat may return. If this happens, the procedure may be repeated or your health care provider might recommend other treatments.