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AF Association
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Possible Ablation

Just wondering if anyone can give me pros and cons of an ablation. I noted in some posts that most are happy with the outcome of the procedure, but I'm scared. Has anyone died from having this procedure or had permanent disabilities? Since I have sleep apnea they want to use general anesthesia. This scares me also. Any advice? I have afib off and on all the time and the EP thinks I will need to have the procedure done relatively soon so that my atria does not change size from too much afib. Then the procedure will not be possible.

12 Replies

Reply to o DGOLD,

People have had good success with ablations.

There seem to be be different sorts.

I have had two ablations in St Mary's , Paddington.

I had anaesthetic , the proceedure was long.

Mine did not work but that is not to say yours won't.

I thought it was worth trying.


You are not alone, most of us were and/or are nervous about the risks associated with having an ablation which is no bad thing. However, the reality is, in percentage terms, the risks are quite low and many of the problems that can occur can be overcome without causing any long term issues. I'm not in a position to quote statistics, and I'm not sure how meaningful they would be anyway - quite a few people have died crossing the road, but folk still have to cross the road. Most say that an ablation should only be considered if it will improve quality of life and recently a video by Dr Sanjay Gupta about ablation was posted a day or two ago by Pilgrim3 which is well worth watching. Only you can decide whether the risk is worth taking. It is very rare indeed to hear anyone on the forum say that they wished they had never had one. Forums, by there very nature, tend to attract posts from folk who have had problems, so when you consider how many thousands of people who have had one, that should give an idea as to how low the risks are. I hope you can come to terms with your dilemma, one thing is for sure, your EP is right to say the sooner the better if that's the route you decide to take......good luck


I must declare an interest here. I had three before my AF was sorted out but would go again tomorrow if needed. The risks are generally over stated for the protection of the doctors as we have become such a litigious society. Lots of things can kill you but I have not heard of anybody IN UK having died from one. I am told that the statistics may not be so good in USA as many more doctors perform procedures who may not have such experience as here in UK. That gem came from one of UK's leading EPs by the way.

GA is no problem. Over a four year period with ablations and cancer operations I had over 20 hours of it and am still smiling.

I would rather have an ablation than root canal dentistry.


I haven't checked this out, but the nurse in my pre-op yesterday said something along the lines of no-one in Bristol has died from one, but someone in the UK did but it was like 10 years ago or something.


I'm not having a general anesthetic for mine. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I think I'd prefer to go to sleep and be woken up when it's all done.

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They figure the risk of death averages about 2%. You'd have to count up your risk factors and decide whether the potential benefits outweigh the risks. I've seen quite a lot of people here seem to have had good outcomes.


2% ! Are you sure? I was given a figure of around 1 in 1,000, and Google says the same. At the time I had mine, none of those were in the UK (so my EP said).


I was determined not to have an ablation but, long story short, I was pushed into it! I'm very pleased I had it, result not perfect but a huge improvement. I can't think of any cons.......

Don't worry about the GA, I had several difficulties with that but you are tested and questioned carefully by the anaesthetist beforehand to avoid possible problems.

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I have heard some EPs say that sleep apnoea must be treated first before ablation - not that a General is dangerous- more that the results won't be as good as sleep apnoea is closely linked with AF


Thank you all for your comments. They have been very helpful and I think the ablation is the right thing to do. Of course, I'm scared, but so many have said they are happy they had it done. I believe my quality of life will be better.


Best wishes, do let us know how you get on.


I had a PVI under sedation in 2005 for persistent AF and it worked perfectly. I didn't have to take drugs afterwards except for anticoagulants, which I'm on for life. AF came back a tiny bit 8 years later, and I then had another ablation under GA this time, but they had to abort for other reasons.

Both ablations were no problem at all, just had to be a bit careful afterwards for while obviously mainly with the groin entry point when showering and moving about.

I'd gladly have another if offered but my drugs are working very well.



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