Is ablation painful?

I saw a consultant EP this week to discuss ablation and he said

' it is very painful' -I didn't ask whether he gave sedation and morphine during the process as my brain froze at the word 'pain' !

Has anyone had their ablation at Glenfield hospital in Leicester and if so were you offered pain relief?

54 Replies

  • Find another EP.

  • I have had two and neither were painful/ The only time I felt any pain was in the second one which went for more than 6 hours and the local started to wear off on my leg and they put more in, no problem. There are no nerve endings in your veins or arteries so there is nothing to cause pain. Your leg is a little sore afterwards and bruises and some discomfort as your heart heals but that was all. I was fully awake for both one 5 1/2 hours the other over 6 hours. I am going for a 3rd one in February

  • I had discomfort after and was totally under for the couple of hours. Endone is your friend and helps if you have to travel a long distance when released. I left on the third day after but that was because of low blood pressure. Getting a wart is painful. Get a new EP and dont worry none of us are dead yet. Oh and I am from Australia

  • Hey me too, I haven't been put under at all I was told I had to be awake to talk to them. I am flying to Adelaide for my next one so I am not looking forward to the journey home the next day.

  • Bugger that mum, that has hairs on it. I know overseas have a different system to us, but was under the impression that under was the way to go here. The EP I had was from Westmead and was awesome, kind, considerateand helpful. My ablation was the first one and I do not look like needing another at this point in time. Good luck, I dont think you will be sent home the next day unless your stable hence the reason I stayed in hospital for 3 days. And ask for drugs thay are legal :)

  • I was told I needed to be awake so I could tell them stuff and I was sent home the next day both times so i guess the next one I will too. I have a lovely EP too. Apparently I am a difficult case as I have extra electrical pathways and afib so I am off to see the Professor in Adelaide, my EP will also be there. I have multiple chemical allergies and a coupe of chronic illnesses, so i don't do any opioid pain relief just paracetamol.

  • I can only speak from my experience in an American hospital where my ablation procedure was done on an "outpatient" basis yet was under general anesthesia and overnight for observation. Mine was three hours and six areas treated. No pain whatsoever and such a relief to wake up in sinus rhythm. Good luck and best wishes.

  • I have had two ablations so far, at Southampton General, I was sedated but fully awake, I was aware something was going on, but the whole procedure was painless, except for the sore groin for a week or two. I was kept in overnight on both occasions.

  • I had my procedure at the Bristol Heart under sedation, I was awake but I drifted in and out, I had no pain what so ever, there was discomfort when the EP tweaked the diaphragm to make sure the phrenic nerve wasn't damaged but other than that no sensation at all

  • I think there are a couple of things to consider. Whether you have it under general or local anaesthetic and whether you have a tolerance to sedation/pain relief.

    I had my ablation under local and the morphine had very little effect other than lowering my blood pressure. Consequently I was wide awake throughout the procedure and every burn was excruciating. The worst pain I've ever experienced and the EP could only ablate in small stages before it was unbearable. But I think this is rare and I soon forgot the pain afterwards.

    That said, it was totally worth it. Probably the best decision I've made in a long time as I've been AF free for six months now.

    Good luck.

  • I'm amazed. The most painful bit when I had an ablation was the stab in the finger for the INR test.

  • I'm with you on that. As a devout coward I would not have gone for my second or third if there has been any pain.

  • I was given Midazolane and Remifentamil which is a narcotic, it is the competence of the anaethetist to constantly monitor and adjust which ensures pain free. I have been told that not all EP's use an anaethetist so if there is pain they are not qualified to administer the above drugs.

  • I had this experience too and opted for general anaesthetic for the other two.

  • In a word NO! Properly medicated you don't feel thing, and if you do it is due to incompetence. Always ask if an anaethetist will be administering the sedation, if the answer is no, one of the team avoid.

    Agree see another EP, a competent one. There is a good list on the AFA website.

  • I have had 2 ablations at Glenfield and one at Coventry. I had a local for all and also pre med to give me an edge. The first was for 4 hours and the second was 7.5 hours The first went completely as planned it was only my INR that made me stay longer. As for pain I was a little sore but nothing to bad at all. The second I picked up an infection but was not in pain while having the ablation or after except a sore groin. My third was all done except for a stubborn leak which kept me in a little longer. But I was home in the same evening. If you have had a angiogram it is no different in procedure technique.

    My best advice is ask for a pre med and go for it the benefit is worth it. I am not just an AF er and have multi conditions to deal with but I see no reason why the doctor has made out it hurts?

    Be well

  • I had my ablation under sedation and watched them do it on-screen. I couldn't feel a thing but when they started ablating I could feel that, it wasn't pain but it was heading that way. I recall groaning, immediately hearing the word morphine and next thing I woke up in bed.

    I've had two procedures and neither time did the groin wound hurt, slight discomfort is how I'd describe it, hardly worth mentioning.

    Sorry, I wouldn't go near an EP who says it's painful. Maybe he or she doesn't believe in giving drugs!


  • Had mine done under sedation and would do so again if necessary, there was only a slight discomfort which soon disappeared when I mentioned it as I was given extra sedation.

  • I had my two ablations under sedation only and was semi awake all the time. If I became too aware of what was happening there was a nurse sat by me who nodded to someone to give me more sedation and then I was still conscious but away with the fairies again. I never felt a thing! I would be very tempted to go to another EP. I have never heard of anyone being warned that an ablation would be painful.

  • No its not.A little uncomfortable perhaps.

    Why say that? Very odd.

    Perhaps its because it's a very expensive procedure ? if you can be put off having it -result!

    Maybe find another EP


  • It's painful thinking about it. I was lined up to have it carried out by one of the top guys in town. Best decision I ever made. J.

  • I had mine under sedation, felt a little discomfort a couple of times but only for a matter of seconds as my groaning initiated morphine....... and sleep.

    Don't be put off. Try to research the experience of the EP and how many ablations he has done.

  • Hi Jen, I've had an ablation but not at that hospital. My experience is that it is uncomfortable but I wouldn't say painful. They gave me sedation so I was unaware of what was happening until the last half hour. It took four hours. I had to take it easy for a few weeks after and I was fine. Please try not to worry it really is not that bad. Good luck.

  • Thank you all for your comments and reassurance. I have to phone his secretary to book a date but obviously have the word 'pain' buzzing around my head. It is so good to know you are all there with honest feedback and concern. I really do appreciate this amazing site. Best wishes to you all.

  • Well how bad is your life without it? Do you really need it? Can your situation be medicated? This is a serious procedure and not to be taken lightly, so ask the questions and ensure you get the answer to your satisfaction. Take your husband / wife along and let them have their question and answers to, as they are part of you. J.

  • Well how bad is your life without it? Do you really need it? Can your situation be medicated? This is a serious procedure and not to be taken lightly, so ask the questions and ensure you get the answer to your satisfaction. Take your husband / wife along and let them have their question and answers to, as they are part of you. J.

  • Silly, I know, but are you certain he didn't say "it's NOT very painful", or maybe that's what he meant to say but forgot the word "not". Sounds bizarre otherwise.


  • That's what I thought - what a ridiculous thing to say!

  • What is he on about! I have had 3 all under GA . Most painful bit was groin and a sore throat from the TOE. About to have my 4th in Feb. Why is he frightening you?

  • No pain at all. Find another EP!

  • I had an angiogram that was more painful than childbirth due to problems in the groin area. Tolerance of pain is obviously a very individual thing. Please don't say that something is or isn't painful - it isn't the same for everyone.

  • We should perhaps be saying 'I felt no pain' rather than giving an impression that any pain was felt but bearable. I wouldn't go so far as to say childbirth isn't painful, but my second child, 2lbs lighter than the first, was born just like that whilst I was waiting for an epidural, and for me it was the proverbial breeze - definitely better than tooth extraction, which is unfortunate as I don't anticipate more children (I'm 68) and have 27 teeth lingering dubiously. I've commented above about ablation.

  • We can all only speak from personal experience. There is far too much of the "this is the way we do it" attitude from the medical profession and far too little understanding of the patient's perspective.

  • All midwives should have a baby as part of their training! And surgeons should have some sort of operation. I wonder if my EP had tasted the vile bananary stuff that makes your throat disappear?

    It was good at Patients' Day to have a talk by an EP who has AF.

  • How interesting!! An EP with AF..i would have loved to have listened to him/her.! My EP is very understanding I must say, especially with regards to the misery PAF can cause at times and the impact it can have on one's life...but i don't think he has AF!

  • I had Ablation last year which lasted ages. I have felt amazing since and have had no problems.

    I did not find it painful .Good luck. Mine was done at NGHospital Sheffield. Amazing heart care.


  • Its quite amazing really all the different stories for the same procedure.

    I have not had one but have been told by my cardiologist if there did come a time when I needed one, that it took around 2 hours and you went home the same day with some paracetmol.??

  • I was offered Glenfield but refused and went to Wythenshaw as family live up there. I was told it is uncomfortable but only in short bursts. However, after my electrical study, I went vasovagal (passed out) and don't remember anything.

    My 2nd one I was far more awake for, and remember the actual PVI bit they did, and it was a burning crushing sensation in the chest that made my eyes water.

    They 'should' give you sedation, usually midazolam, and possibly something else to relax you.

  • I've had 3, it's not a barrel of fun but I think getting tooth removed is far worse and we've all had that done, my only downside to it was lying back still for 12hrs & when the remove the tubes was sore but it was's nothing to worry about, I was the same first time but afterwards couldn't believe why I was so worried! Lol

  • I was out for the procedure so I don't recall any pain BUT when I woke up I had considerable pain in my groin and a burning feeling in my chest that lasted for a couple days. Maybe that's what the EP is talking about?

    Are you all saying you felt no discomfort AFTER the procedure? I find that hard to believe.

  • I felt fine in all directions. No pain, no pain relief offered, none needed.

  • No pain during or after. But was completely sedated for three-hour procedure on six areas. Did have a roaring headache for that night in hospital, when prone, however, if that counts.

  • Mine was very painful and I realise now that I was just unlucky. But I had second and third under general anaesthetic and it was fine. The problem with the first one was that I don't think they understood the level of pain I was actually in, presumably because most don't feel this sort of pain. God knows why it was so bad as I am pretty stoic about most things. They have made a big difference to my life though so worth having done.

  • Ditch him and find another EP. What a crass thing for him to say.

  • Same as the others really, I was in there only 2 hours on slight sedation

    but they couldnt manage to do what was required but I had no pain, 1st time.

    Second lasted 41/2 hours under GA as TOE required and the only pain

    was a very sore throat. Good luck. I feel sure you misunderstood.


  • I am due to have mine done at Glenfield on the 27th. I know it wont be pleasant, but then is any surgery. You will be sedated and pain relief is given and you can ask for more.

  • Well, this is encouraging given I'm scheduled for my second procedure on the 27th also.

    After my first one (done by one of the most renowned in the county at JHU) the doctor came in to check in on me and I told him I was surprised I was in pain since he had told me it wouldn't be bad. His response was - "I told you you wouldn't feel anything during the procedure but the first day afterwards you'll feel like you got run over by a bus." Me - "Oh... more medicine please" and I remember every pothole we hit on the drive home but after a day or so I was much better and back to work in a few days.

  • So many replies -I'm so grateful to you all.

  • Mine was uncomfortable and they at to up the pain relief but nothing to write home about. Got the bus home the next day.

  • No they are not painful I have had 4 and felt no pain whatever so don't worry about a thing, no ep should ever say it's painful

  • I hade an RF ablation for Woolfe Parkinson White Syndrome under sedation. It lasted about 4 hours and was ok, you had the sensation of "heartburn" when they were ablating. I then discovered I had PAF. luckily I took out private health care some years ago so after some research I decided the best man for the job was Professor Richard Schilling (google him). He practises at the London Bridge Hospital, but also does NHS at St Bart's. What a player he is and a nice chap to boot!! I had a cryo ablation under GA which took an hour and a half and I woke up to be asked "What do you fancy for lunch?" Why don't you ask your GP to refer you. Best wishes.......

  • Thanks Tbag1955 ( wonderful name!). I have had such a huge response to my post - quite overwhelmed by everyone who has taken the time to reassure me. Really helpful and given me a lot to think about.

  • You have probably had enough replies to your question....

    I had mine done 3wks ago under sedation...when the ablation was being done I had discomfort in my chest which did become.rather painful. Ended up with 20mg of morphine in me and can't remember the end of the op!

    Don't worry about it it's not unbearable pain and more than worth it....good luck

  • Thank you for your reply lloydie. I have been amazed at the response and very reassured.

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