Catheter Ablation for Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)
For patients wishing to avoid lifelong medication, this high cure rate procedure targets and destroys abnormal heart tissue to restore normal heart rhythm.
What is SVT?
Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) affects up to one in 400 people. A heart rate over 100 beats per minute is called a tachycardia and occurs when electrical impulses in your heart are faulty. In the case of SVT, a racing heart is due to an abnormal pathway that you may have been born with or may result from scar tissue post-surgery. SVT is a type of tachycardia which originates in the top chambers of the heart, above the ventricles in the atria. Symptoms can last just a few minutes or continue for days at a time and include a fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, lightheadedness or fainting. Regular tachycardia can weaken your heart muscle over time, and in most cases will require treatment.
Types of SVT include:
Atrioventricular (AV) nodal re-entry: a common condition where the normal electrical pathway has an extra fibre that causes disruption in the circuit
AV re-entry: occurs when the circuit forms from electrical impulses travelling via the AV node and an abnormal (often congenitally as in Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome) extra pathway
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome: A rare condition present at birth where an extra electrical pathway between your heart’s upper and lower chambers causes a rapid heartbeat
Many people with SVT require lifelong drug therapy which comes with the risk of side effects, and is just poorly tolerated in some patients. The catheter ablation procedure has a very high cure rate (approximately 95%) with a low risk of complications. It works by inserting special catheters (small, flexible wires) into the heart under x-ray guidance to identify the tachycardia source. Once identified and mapped, the abnormal tissue is heated and damaged using targeted radiofrequency delivered via the catheter to cure the condition.
- Have tried medications without success
- Have suffered from serious side effects from medications
- Have a high risk of complications from their condition
- The day of your procedure you will be admitted to hospital and taken to an Electrophysiology Laboratory (EP Lab).
- The team performing the procedure includes the GenesisCare cardiologist, three catheter laboratory nurses, an anaesthetist and anaesthetic nurse, a radiographer, a cardiac scientist and a 3D mapping cardiac scientist, and it generally takes between 3 to 6 hours to complete.
- Medications to control your heart rhythm should generally be stopped two to four days prior to the procedure. Your cardiologist will let you know if this is the case.
- Since X-ray is required for the procedure, you must alert your doctor if you think you may be pregnant.
- You will be given intravenous sedation or general anaesthetic. Local anaesthetic is placed in the skin using a small needle. Catheters may be placed in the right and/or left groin.
- Through sheaths and under X-ray guidance the flexible catheters are advanced up the veins to the heart. There is very little sensation associated with the placement of these catheters.
- During the delivery of the radiofrequency energy there may be mild chest discomfort. Occasionally, multiple applications of electrical current may be required to destroy the abnormal fibre.
- At the end of the procedure, all the catheters and sheaths will be removed. You will stay in bed for three to five hours to prevent bleeding at sites where the catheters were inserted. You will usually be discharged the next day.
Do not eat or drink anything for six hours prior to your procedure
An electrophysiology study may be performed before your procedure
Make sure you read the consent form and understand the risks involved with this procedure. Please clarify any concerns or queries about this procedure with your cardiologist before signing this form
What happens next?
In the first 24 hours after your procedure, it is common to have some minor bruising and discomfort at the incision sites in the groin. You should avoid exercise and heavy lifting for the first few days, and then resume normal activities after the first week.
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