Update of phrenic nerve injury due to heart ablation

It has been almost 6 months since my ablation and still having to sleep on the recliner due to doctor injuring my phrenic nerve during surgery. My cardiologist suggested for me to have a diaphragm pacemaker put in since the nerve injury caused my right diaphragm to be paralyzed. Has anyone dealt with this problem before and if so how long does it take for the phrenic nerve to heal. Thanks so much.

17 Replies

  • I've just looked back at the replies you got when you first flagged up the problem. The answer seemed to be around a year, but up to 18 months, so don't give up yet! Is your breathing any better than when it first happened?

  • I have noticed a few changes in my breathing. I seem to be able to last a little bit longer when it comes to cleaning the house where as before when I would exert myself I would have to sit down after a short period of time. Some days are harder than the others due to the Florida warming trend that we are beginning to have and the allergies. The fact that I'm not a very patient person does not help the matter. LOL thanks so much for your reply. I really appreciate it.

  • I can only go from my wife's experience. She had a cryo-ablation first time around which had to be aborted partway through because the phrenic nerve on that side stopped working. It eventually resolved after about 10 months so, in your case, it's way too early to think about a pacemaker for the nerve.

    We didn't get confirmation that the phrenic nerve was back working until she had an X-ray about 12 months after the ablation but she suspected something had started to happen a couple of months earlier when she started experiencing episodes of pins and needles sensations at the bottom of her ribcage.

    Hope this helps.

  • This really gives me a lot of hope. I have experienced some feelings and changes which are hard to explain. You're definitely right it is too early but it's nice to hear that I may see some healing within the next several months. So is your wife not having any more breathing problems at all. I look so forward to that. I would be happy just to be able to sleep in my own bed instead of the recliner. Thanks so much for sharing and give me some hope. I really do appreciate it.

  • Just to let you know that my wife no longer has any problems with breathing now that the nerve has repaired itself. In fact, even while it wasn't working, she got used to the breathing problem and found it didn't bother her that much after a while. Disconcerting at first of course but relax and give it time. Hopefully it won't be too much longer before it resolves.

    As a matter of interest, we saw my wife's EP consultant this afternoon and he told us he had had another phrenic nerve problem a couple of weeks ago but, having learnt from my wife's experience, he spotted the problem early on and terminated the procedure early. As a result the patient's phrenic nerve was back working the following day. Basically ablation, especially the cryo version, is fairly new in the UK and the EP's are still on the learning curve. Unfortunately some people have to be the guinea pigs on the road to acquiring a high level of skill in the procedure.

  • So glad to hear your wife is doing great. I look forward to that day. Cannot believe that it takes so long for the nerve to heal. Did you wife do anything (such as exercises or any type of Vitamins) to help expedite the healing. In regards to the fact that we are guinea pigs, your right. I guess that is why they always say they are practicing medicine. Anyway, thanks for your response. Take care.

  • No, she didn't do any exercises specifically for the problem nor did she take any vitamins or such like. We just kept our fingers crossed that the EP would turn out to be right when he said it should eventually resolve. Now have our fingers crossed for you!

  • Thanks so much. I have my fingers crossed too.

  • A general multi-vitamin-and-mineral for three months, along with the healthiest eating possible could help. B vitamins are also known to be good for nerves.

  • I have been taking vitamins for a while. I need to add the B vitamin. Thanks for letting me know.

  • So sorry that this happened to you! Terrible. I don't know the answer though, might depend on the amount of damage. It is reassuring to know that the nerve can eventually heal

  • I appreciate your quick response. You're right it is nice to know that the nerve will eventually heal I guess I'm just not very patient. I don't know if you're able to find out the amount of damage that was done to the Phrenic nerve. I will have to ask that question to my cardiologist. Thanks again for your response I appreciate it.

  • So Sorry you had damage to the phrenic nerve hope you continue to have improvement.

  • Thanks so much for responding. I have noticed some improvement but I guess I'm just too impatient. I'm wanting to be completely healed now so I can go back to sleeping on my bed instead of the recliner. I am thankful and feel blessed that I am not having to deal with something that could be terminal. Thanks again for your response, I really do appreciate it. Take care.

  • I have hear from 6 months to two years😊

  • I have heard from 6 to 24 months.

  • I had an ablation 15 dec 2016 and had phrenic nerve damage the lung specialist said if it didn't heal in 6 months it wouldn't. My ep said 7 months and I don't think its perfect yet but definitely better so I hope as most are saying on this forum 12 or 18 months till full recovery. All operations have risks and we have to accept that for the chance of improvement it will give us. After all if we make a mistake, normally we don't make same one again. We are all capable of it. Hope you see improvement soon

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