Catheter ablation offers a direct insight into the beating heart and was first carried out in the mid-90s. This method is able to eliminate atrial fibrillation, which is the most common type of cardiac arrhythmia, if any previous drug treatment has not shown the desired success.
The catheter ablation gives patients a chance to a life without cardiac arrhythmia or life-long medication.
The ablation is carried out in the cardiology department. Access to the heart is achieved via a sheath in the femoral blood vessels, from where the catheters are advanced towards the atria and heart chambers. In order to ablate the sites, which have been identified previously, steerable catheters, which emit a heat pulse, are inserted.
Over the past few decades this interventional procedure has been developed into a standard method, but there is still a risk of complications. For example, the emitted heat pulse could destroy an excitation conductor system. In the worst case a pacemaker needs to be implanted. However, this case is very rare, and only 1-2% of patients experience this complication.