SVT ablation

Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) ablation uses cold or heat energy to create tiny scars in your heart to block abnormal electrical signals and restore a normal heartbeat.

SVT ablation is used to treat heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) that affect the heart's upper chambers and cause an abnormally fast or erratic heartbeat (supraventricular tachycardia).

Why it's done

Your doctor 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 your type of heart rhythm problem, SVT ablation may be one of your first treatments. Sometimes it's done when other medicines or treatments don't work. Together, you and your doctor 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 receive a medication called a sedative that helps you relax.

A nurse or technician 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. 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.

Your doctor will choose one of the following ablation techniques to create small scars in your heart and block abnormal heart rhythms.

  • Extreme cold (cryoablation)
  • Heat (radiofrequency energy)
  • Lasers

SVT ablation takes about three to six hours. Afterward, you'll be taken to a recovery area where doctors and nurses will closely monitor your condition. You'll likely stay overnight in the hospital.

Results

Most people see improvements in their quality of life after SVT ablation. But there's a chance your fast heartbeat may return. If this happens, the procedure may be repeated or you and your doctor might consider other treatments.