What Is Ablation, What Does It Treat, What Are the Risks?

Question: What is ablation, what does it treat, and what are the risks with this procedure?

Answer :Ablation is a procedure that's been available now for 10 or 15 years or more, that is to eliminate heart rhythm disorders mostly now in what we call the upper chamber, or the atrium.

And it involves producing a scar in an area of the upper chamber of the heart that's responsible for the generation of rapid heart rhythms.

The most common use right now is in the removal or the elimination, that is ablation, of a rhythm called atrial fibrillation -- an irregular, rapid rhythm that can be very troublesome for the patient.

And the approach is to identify where this is originating from, and then ablate it through electrical current that actually heats and ablates the source of the heart rhythm disorder.

This is being widely applied. It has a few, limited risks -- no procedure is 100 percent safe. But in good hands, and if it's done carefully, it can result in dramatic cure of a troublesome rhythm.

The rare complications can end in a perforation of the upper chamber of the heart, and usually that's easily recognized and it can be medically, and occasionally, surgically treated.