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What Is VT Ablation?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) ablation may be considered as a treatment for a patient with an abnormally fast heart rhythm arising in the ventricles. In VT, the ventricles beat quickly and out of synch with the atria. Ablation therapy targets the specific zones responsible for generating abnormal electrical impulses to stabilize the patient’s heart rate. It is typically performed in a hospital or similar facility with the patient under anesthesia for safety and comfort.

Patients can develop ventricular tachycardia for a number of reasons. Initial conservative therapy can include medications, and if these are not successful, artificial pacing may be considered. A pacemaker can be implanted in the heart to control the rhythm. If it isn’t effective and if the patient experiences recurrent episodes of ventricular tachycardia, ablation may be considered as the next step in treatment. Patients can discuss the risks and benefits of this option in their cases with a doctor.

During VT ablation, a doctor threads a wire through the groin or neck to access the heart and carefully burns targeted areas of the heart muscle. These are chosen by looking for the places where abnormal signals originate. The goal is to effectively short-circuit the erroneously firing electrical currents in the heart to prevent future episodes of tachycardia. Ultrasound may be used for guidance in VT ablation to make sure the heart muscle is protected while monitoring the position of the wire.

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Some potential complications from this procedure can include stroke and puncture. The incidence of VT ablation risks is low, especially at facilities that are familiar with the technique and perform large numbers of cases annually. Clotting can be a concern, and patients may receive anticoagulant medications shortly before or during the surgery as well as using anticlotting drugs for several weeks after VT ablation. Some precaution needs to be taken with these drugs while the patient uses them and shortly after therapy is complete, as they can lead to additional complications for the patient like increased bruising or bleeding inside the joints.

Once VT ablation has been performed, the patient’s heart rhythm should improve. In follow up appointments, a doctor can perform some tests to check on the rhythm and discuss any complications the patient experiences. People who notice symptoms like feeling dizzy, weak, or confused after the procedure should report them to their physicians, who can determine if these are signs of potential complications that may indicate the need for further attention.

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