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Catheter Ablation

Catheter ablation is a procedure to treat heart rhythm disorders called cardiac arrhythmias.

Why choose UPMC in Central Pa. for your catheter ablation?

When you choose UPMC in Central Pa. for your catheter ablation, you will receive expert care from some of the region’s most experienced cardiologists who treat all types of irregular heart rhythms.

Our physicians perform hundreds of catheter ablation procedures each year using the latest technology and techniques. And, if you require additional cardiovascular care, the specialists at UPMC in Central Pa. have the skills and experience needed to perform advanced cardiovascular procedures and offer you the latest treatment options.

What is catheter ablation?

Catheter ablation is commonly done to treat fast heart rhythms, or tachycardia. During catheter ablation, a catheter is inserted into the part of your heart that is causing the fast heartbeat. The catheter releases either radiofrequency electrical energy or super-cooled nitrous oxide to scar or destroy the tissue that is causing your fast heartbeat. A specially trained doctor called an electrophysiologist performs catheter ablation in an electrophysiology lab.

What happens during catheter ablation?

Catheters that record electrical activity are inserted into a vein, typically through your groin, and guided to your heart. These special catheters monitor electrical signals in your heart and deliver the energy required to perform the ablation. Your medical team will use a computerized mapping system to help them find the source of the abnormal electrical signals.

Catheter ablation usually takes 1-4 hours. Other medical procedures, such as cardioversion/defibrillation, transseptal puncture, or intra-cardiac ultrasound, may be performed at the same time.

What can I expect after catheter ablation?

After the catheters are removed, your medical team will apply pressure to the insertion site for several minutes to help stop the bleeding. You must remain lying down for 4-6 hours and refrain from moving the limb where the catheter was inserted. Your medical team will need to monitor your blood pressure and check the insertion site frequently, so you will need to remain in the hospital for several hours, or possibly overnight. It is very important that you follow your discharge instructions and take good care of your insertion site to prevent complications.

How long does it take to recover after catheter ablation?

Talk to your doctor about when you can resume normal activities or return to work. You may be instructed not to drive for a certain amount of time after the procedure, so you may need to arrange for someone to drive you home. It also is very important that you see your doctor for follow-up visits as recommended. You should call your doctor if you are experiencing any unusual symptoms, including:

  • Pain, redness, bleeding, drainage, or increased swelling at the insertion site
  • Burning or pain in your chest
  • Rapid or pounding heartbeat
  • Severe pain, coldness, numbness, or discoloration in the limb where the catheter was inserted
  • A fever of more than 100.0°F
  • New or increasing shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing, throat pain, or bloody cough
  • Redness or rash on your chest or back


Need more information?

  • Cumberland/Dauphin/Franklin/Lebanon/Perry Counties: 717-731-0101
  • Adams/York Counties: 717-637-1738 or 717-849-5576
  • Lancaster County: 717-299-5000

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