Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency ablation (RF ablation) is a treatment for arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) that restores regular heart rhythm by using high-frequency radio waves that are sent through catheters placed in the heart. The radio waves then destroy the areas of the heart where the electrical activity is abnormal.

  1. Please avoid food and water for at least eight hours before the procedure.
  2. Please let the doctor know about all medication that you are taking as some may need to be stopped before the procedure.
  1. An intravenous line (IV) will be started for fluids and medications. You will be given a medication through your intravenous that will make you drowsy or sleepy. A local anesthetic will be injected into the groin to numb the area where the catheter will be inserted.
  2. The doctor will insert the catheter through a vein at the groin.
  3. Once the catheters reach the chambers of the heart, they can sense the electrical activity and be used to evaluate your heart’s conduction system.
  4. When the location of the abnormality is found (the cause of the arrhythmia), the doctor will then use a catheter than can transmit high-frequency radio waves into that area and use radiofrequency to destroy abnormal electrical activity.
  5. After the ablation the doctor will check that the radio waves were applied to the right area by sending electrical signals to the heart or using intravenous medication.
  6. The procedure will take approximately 2-4 hours to complete, but complicated procedures may take longer.
  1. After the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery area for observation and monitoring.
  2. You will need to lie flat for four to six hours to prevent bleeding. During this time, pressure may be applied to the catheter removal site to prevent bleeding.
  3. You can expect to be in the hospital for 1-2 days.
  4. Ask your health care team when you can shower, return to work, and resume other normal activities.
  5. Avoid strenuous activities and heavy lifting for one week. Your puncture site is likely to remain tender for a while. It may be slightly bruised and have a small bump.
  1. Swelling, bleeding, and infection at the catheter site
  2. Allergic reaction to the medications or contrast used during the procedure
  3. Cardiac perforation or bleeding in the pericardium.
  4. Recurrence of arrhythmia.
  5. Blood clot leading to stroke, heart attack, or other problems
  6. Death
Let your doctor know if you develop problems, such as:
  1. Bleeding at the insertion site, bruising, or pain when the area is touched
  2. Signs of infection such as redness, drainage, or fever
  3. Chest pain or shortness of breath
  4. Dizziness or fainting
Before the procedure
  • You should plan to stay in Thailand for at least one week through the duration of your treatment.
  • It is recommended that you stay in a hotel close to the hospital for convenience in traveling to the hospital before and after the procedure or from the day of the procedure to the day of your follow-up appointment.
After the Procedure
  • At your follow-up appointment you will undergo a physical examination and your wound will be checked. You will receive documentation regarding your surgery or procedure and all other relevant documentation for traveling.
  • Avoid activities that require strenuous pulling, pushing, shoving, or lifting as well as kneeling. These can cause bleeding from the injection site at the groin.
  • Keep the injection site at the groin dry and clean until it is fully healed. Please let the doctor know if you experience redness, swelling, and/or severe pain. If there is bleeding from the injection site, place pressure on the site for at least 10 minutes. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, please talk to your doctor immediately.
  • When traveling by air, if you are seated in Economy Class, please choose an exit row or bulkhead seat for convenience in getting up and moving around every 15-30 minutes. Flex your ankles regularly to prevent deep vein thrombosis.
  • Please take all medication prescribed by your doctor. Carry the appropriate dosage of mediation in your carry-on luggage when you travel as well as a few extra doses in case of an emergency. Carry the prescription for all your medication to avoid problems at the airport.
The success of the procedure depends on a number of factors. Please discuss the likelihood of success with your doctor before the procedure.
What if this procedure is not performed?
Many people have abnormal heart rhythms that cannot be controlled by lifestyle changes or medications. The radiofrequency ablation helps locate the specific areas of heart tissue that give rise to these abnormal rhythms and eliminates them. Without this procedure, your doctor may not be able to effectively treat your arrhythmia.

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