Atrial fibrillation ablation is a procedure that is performed on the heart to treat atrial fibrillation. The intention is to improve the symptoms of atrial fibrillation by completely abolishing the abnormal rhythm or in some cases by making the atrial fibrillation less frequent so that tablets will work better.
The procedure is similar to “keyhole” surgery. It is undertaken via the vein at the top of the leg through 3 or 4 punctures. The principle of the procedure is to ablate the area around the four veins that enter the top left chamber of the heart so that these veins are effectively electrically disconnected from the rest of the heart. This is because electrical signals that travel out of the veins are what start atrial fibrillation. In some cases other areas near these veins are also ablated if necessary. The procedure usually takes about 2 hours but can be as long as 5, depending how much ablation needs to be done. Most patients need to be taking warfarin before, during and after the procedure.