What is supraventricular tachycardia ablation?
Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) ablation is a technique that uses cold or heat energy to create tiny scars in the heart to block abnormal electrical signals and restore normal heartbeat.
Supraventricular tachycardia ablation is used to treat problems of heart rhythm (arrhythmias) that affect the upper chambers of the heart and cause an abnormally fast or erratic heartbeat. This problem is known as supraventricular tachycardia.
Why a supraventricular tachycardia ablation may be requested
Supraventricular tachycardia ablation may be recommended to address conditions that cause fast and erratic heartbeat, such as:
- Atrial flutter.
- Atrial tachycardia.
- Atrioventricular nodal re-entrant tachycardia (AVNRT).
- Atrioventricular re-entrant tachycardia (AVRT).
Preparation for a supraventricular tachycardia ablation procedure?
Before going for a supraventricular tachycardia ablation, if you’re on any medication you will need to stop taking this medication 5 days to the procedure. ECG and some blood tests will be carried out.
Fasting is required for at least six hours before the procedure. However, if the procedure is in the morning, there should be no eating or drinking after midnight.
Supraventricular tachycardia ablation procedure
The first step in a supraventricular tachycardia ablation is taking a sedative that helps relax.
Hairs in an area, usually in the groin area, are shaved, and the area is numbed.
Small incisions are made to access a blood vessel in the numbed area.
A long flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into the vein, and carefully guided to the heart.
Sensors at the tip of the catheter send electrical impulses and record the heart’s electricity. This information is used to determine the best place to apply the ablation treatment.
Either of the ablation techniques – extreme cold (cryoablation), heat (radiofrequency energy) or lasers – is chosen to create small scars in the heart and block abnormal heart rhythms.
What should you expect after a catheter ablation procedure?
After a supraventricular tachycardia ablation procedure patients are transferred back to the ward where they lie flat for 4 to 6 hours. During this time, it is important the legs are kept straight and the head relaxed on the pillow. Discharge may take place on the same day or on the following day. The procedure may take one away from work for 5 to 7 days.
The groin area may feel sore and appear bruised for several weeks after a supraventricular tachycardia ablation procedure. Therefore, strenuous physical activities and sports must be avoided for a week after the procedure until this has settled.
There may be minor chest discomfort and brief palpitations as a result of the extra beats of the heart for several days after the procedure, due to the irritation caused by the ablation in the heart.
Supraventricular tachycardia ablation results
After a supraventricular tachycardia ablation procedure, most people see improvements in their life’s quality.
There’s also a possibility the fast heartbeat may return. In this case, the procedure may have to be repeated or other treatments considered.
How long does supraventricular tachycardia ablation take?
A supraventricular tachycardia ablation procedure takes about 3 to 6 hours.
What is supraventricular tachycardia?
Supraventricular tachycardia, SVT, is a group of abnormal fast heart rhythms that occur because of a problem involving the upper chambers of the heart. This is as a result of electrical impulse either starting from a different location or following a route (or pathway) that is not normally present.
Symptoms may be dizziness (blacking out may occur but is unusual), shortness of breath, sweating, chest pain and anxiety.
Is supraventricular tachycardia life threatening?
In most cases supraventricular tachycardia is a benign condition. This means it won’t lead to a sudden death, damage the heart, cause a heart attack, or shorten life expectancy.
Are there alternative treatments to supraventricular tachycardia?
Other than an ablation, supraventricular tachycardia may be treated with:
- Medication: This reduces the frequency and severity of episodes but won’t cure the problem.
- No treatment at all: Since supraventricular tachycardia is almost always a benign condition, those having infrequent and short-lived episodes that are not troublesome may simply choose to live with it.
What is the success rate of catheter ablation for SVT?
The success rate of a supraventricular tachycardia procedure depends on the type of SVT present but usually it is approximately 95% to 98%, and the risk of return or recurrence after an apparently successful procedure is approximately 1% to 2%.