AF Association
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My Catheter Ablation Experience

I posted about a year ago about being diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation. I had tried using Sotalol to prevent the AF which worked for about a year then I started getting AF episodes again. I then moved onto Bisoprolol and Flecainide which prevented AF for about a further year but I have been experiencing AF again in the last few weeks.

I had decided to go for the PVI Catheter Ablation procedure and was put on a 10 month waiting list to have the procedure done under my preferred surgeon. That day came 4 days ago. I wouldn't say I was nervous on the day but aware of what might go wrong and accepted the risks. My surgeon was Dr. Fox and I had my procedure at Wythenshawe NHS hospital. I can't fault the staff or procedures; it went very smoothly and in fact was far less traumatic than I'd expected. Here's what happened:

After various checks I was taken into the Lab room where I lay down on the "slab". The surgeon introduced the half-dozen medical staff and explained each step of the procedure to me so that there wouldn't be any surprises. I was administered a sedative (which I hardly felt in the way of being drowsy but I guess I may have been more stressed without it) and the process started straight away. I could see the 6 large monitors with my details and x-ray image but didn't watch them in case I felt queasy. The first thing a knew was a sharp pain in my groin. The pain wasn't much though, more like the feeling of a needle and was actually more like a scratch. I'm assuming this was the local anesthetic being given. After that a little mild shoving feeling but not painful or even uncomfortable.

From then onwards I really wasn't aware of anything being done and kept still. It was a bit boring but I'm guessing an hour or so must have seemed like a few minutes to me. The only time I was aware of what was happening was when I was being treated with the cryogenic probe which made my heart/chest kick like you see a frog's leg when electricity is applied. Again no pain involved. The only pain I had was an ice-cream headache which the surgeon had told me patients sometimes feel with the cryogenic freezing. I was administered pain killers and it went away.

When the procedure was over I stayed in a post-op area for about an hour until the levels of blood thinners had decreased to a regular level. In the main ward I had to lie flat for 2 or 3 hours to relieve the pressure on the groin puncture. Again there was no pain.

I was kept in overnight in the ward for observation. During this time my groin wound did ache and I was given paracetamol which reduced the pain to an acceptable level.

Since coming home the only symptoms I've had is the groin ache, headaches and tiredness, but feel better every day.

So, in summary, the whole process was much easier than I'd expected. Sorry if the detailed events sound frightening but I thought I'd give my experience in enough detail to help others to understand what to expect.

It really was a case of the medical staff doing all the work while I lie back and let it happen. I've been much more scared going to the dentist.

4 Replies

Thanks for the update. I do hope you have an excellent outcome and an af free future. Well done.

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OK now make sure that you rest for the next couple of weeks. You may have some strange feeling and rhythms over the next couple of months but this is normal.

Be well


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Everyone speaks of these post ablation glitches. Are they also expected for flutter ablation? How long do they last? Are they like full AF attacks that last 6,7,8 hours? Or more like bad ectopics? Or transient runs of AF that resolve quickly? I am curious as I'm getting flutter ablation in two weeks. At the moment my AF / flutter is totally under control - no episodes, no ectopics, and exercising 3-4 times per week ... but I suppose that is unlikely to continue indefinitely...


well done good to hear all went well Let us know how you get on please


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