AV Node Ablation
What is AV Node Ablation?
Dr. Ahuja recommends an AV node ablation as the treatment of your atrial fibrillation. In some patients with atrial fibrillation, medications or cardioversion are not effective in controlling the rapid heart rates. Patients who have rapid heart rates during atrial fibrillation often suffer from uncomfortable palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, exercise intolerance or a weakened heart muscle. In these patients, an AV node ablation is effective in eliminating the rapid and irregular heartbeats that are causing their symptoms. We perform this procedure only in patients who do not respond to medications or a cardioversion. You must have a pacemaker or defibrillator already in place before the procedure.
AV Node Ablation Procedure
The AV node is the natural electrical system that allows your heart to conduct its natural heart beats. During atrial fibrillation the AV node causes your heart rhythm to be rapid and irregular. When medications cannot slow your AV node enough to prevent symptoms, then an AV node ablation is a good option. An AV node ablation also burns away your heart’s natural electrical system, and allows your pacemaker or defibrillator to take over for the rest of your life. A catheter is inserted into a vein in the right groin and positioned near the AV node. Radio-frequency energy is energy that passes through the catheter to burn away the AV node. This eliminates the rapid and irregular heartbeats caused by atrial fibrillation. The procedure takes less than 1 hour.
What are the advantages of AV Node Ablation?
An AV node ablation has a very high success rate (98%) and a very low risk of serious complications (1%). It is very effective in alleviating symptoms caused by rapid atrial fibrillation. The procedure also eliminates the need for several medications.
What are the Disadvantages of AV Node Ablation?
The main disadvantage is that you will become dependent on your pacemaker or defibrillator for the rest of your life. This is less serious than it sounds because Dr. Ahuja will make sure your pacemaker or defibrillator is functioning well prior to recommending an AV node ablation. After the ablation you will have to make sure your pacemaker or defibrillator is followed closely by Dr. Ahuja to make sure it continues to work well.