Radiofrequency Energy to Treat Structural Heart Disease

Also known as: radiofrequency ablation, cardiac ablation.

What is radiofrequency energy to treat abnormal heart rhythms?

Heart disease not only refers to problems with the structure of the heart, but may also refer to problems with the electrical wiring of the heart, leading to abnormal heart rhythms or irregular heartbeats. Some of these problems are present at birth. Patients with structural heart disease often have to be corrected with surgery. However, those with abnormal heart rhythms or irregular heartbeats may often be treated with radiofrequency energy, instead. Radiofrequency energy refers to the use of special electricity or radio waves to disrupt the abnormal electrical activity of heart muscle.
 

What happens during the procedure?

A specialized catheter is inserted into a blood vessel, often at the groin or neck, which leads to the heart. The catheter is guided to the heart, where electrodes are used to locate the specific areas of the heart that are contributing to the abnormal rhythm.   Radiofrequency energy is then delivered to that specific area to disrupt the abnormal electrical circuit, so that the heart will no longer go into an abnormal rhythm.
 

Is any special preparation needed?

You likely will need to stop eating or drinking anything at midnight the night before the procedure. You may also need to stop taking certain medications.
 

What are the risk factors?

Risks of the procedure include damage from the catheter, damage to the normal wiring of the heart requiring a pacemaker, damage to heart valves, bleeding, blood clots or fluid around the heart.
 
Radiofrequency energy to treat structural heart disease at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital: The use of radiofrequency energy to treat abnormal heart rhythms is performed by Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s team of top-notch medical professionals using the most cutting edge techniques.

Reviewed by: Sherrie Joy A Baysa, MD

This page was last updated on: 7/25/2018 10:31:36 AM


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The Heart Program at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital provides electrocardiogram (EKG) screenings to children and young adults in the community at no cost. The focus of this program is to create awareness on the importance of pediatric heart screenings in an effort to identify children at risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). The use of an electrocardiogram (EKG) is critical to help diagnose asymptomatic heart defects that  may not otherwise be detected in a routine physical. Learn more.