Sedation with Ablation: I am scheduled for an... - AF Association

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Sedation with Ablation


I am scheduled for an Ablation with sedation next month. I am concerned about feeling pain. Also how do you handle a 3 hour procedure with sedation?

19 Replies

My 3 ablations averaged six hours each and I had general anesthesia. When I awoke and for the duration of my hospital stay, I had no pain. Ablations today are almost a walk in the park. Glad you are having an ablation. A wonder procedure to get your life back on track!

I had my ablation with sedation, no problem at all, you are away with the fairies, the sedation is enough that you are unaware. I only remember hearing a loud thumping in my chest and i beleive I asked "what the .... was that" but I may have dreamt I had shouted out. Didn't feel anything and dont remember anything while the procedure was being done. I had a really positive experience.

I had my ablation under sedation, and as icklebud says, was totally away with the fairies; it really didn’t seem any different to a GA. At one point I ‘came to’ slightly and was aware of something going on in my chest and spoke to the Consultant who told me he had almost finished, then I was ‘out’ again; I guess they upped the sedation meds. There was absolutely no pain - I promise, all I felt was a bit of pushing for those couple of seconds. Please don’t worry, there really is absolutely no need.

Slattery in reply to Tricia239

I feel so much better! Thank you all for your support. As the Ablation date gets closer, I am feeling anxious, but everyone on this site is so supportive. So happy you guys are there🙃

I had sedation and my ablation lasted 5 hours. You're asleep most of the time in a very relaxed state. I did wake at one point and felt something going on but I soon fell asleep again. The short and long term side effects of sedation are better than GA so you're doing the right thing.

RichMert in reply to MarkS

Agree on every point. They just hit you with more sedative when you wake up.

My ablation on the 2nd of May 2018 was done with sedation for AF and Atrial Flutter, it took about 4 hours while it was uncomfortable at times, I çan say I felt no pain at all and they must have upped the juice near the end of the procedure as I woke up on the way back to the ward, so try not to worry too much, mine has been a great success no AF or flutter since just some eptopics

Good luck

Yes, have had two ablations under sedation and one under a GA. You won't know anything about it. I had a male nurse sat watching me and as soon as I started coming around he'd signal and the sedation would be upped.


If you want to look through my old posts (boring) you'll find my ablation report from January which was by far my longest time in the lab (over 5 hours) sedated.

The 4 times prior to that were between 90mins and 3 hours. Again, all sedated.

I'd like to think I have a reasonably high pain threshold (having had 2 lots of Kidney stones in my time). I remember being told on the first go "it will be uncomfortable, but if it's painful you must tell me" - which was great. I did the best I could to push through the stabbing in the crotch and the burning/crushing in the chest.

On the first ablation the pain/sedation was overwhelming and I passed out and needed intubating.

They were a little more cautious on ablations 2-5 but I never had an issue in lying still and felt pretty relaxed aside from the times they "cranked up the Heart Rate" or burnt something off.

On the last ablation, the puncturing of the septum to enter into the left chamber was particularly hard and they almost needed to abandon. That was very very painful. It wasn't constant once they had begun ablating, but to put me back into NSR at the end of things they needed to totally anaesthetise me to cardiovert me as I simply wasn't staying asleep through the heavy sedation.

To summarise I'd say that yes it's painful with sedation, but pain is relative. Some people cope better than others. The way I looked at it was - look I'm sick of getting these debilitating episodes and being on these high medications I need him to look at me and investigate me and sort it out so I need to put up with short term pain for long term gain. And that mantra has stuck with me for nearly 5 years!

Hi jedimasterlincoln

Your first ablation is so similar to mine. I was beginning to wonder why everyone's experience was so positive. I went in to the Cath Lab expecting sedation from the outset. When I queried why they wanted to start without sedation I was told "if we give you sedation we will have to give you oxygen so we will give you sedation only when we start the burning, if you need it" I was told to tell them stop if it got too painful and I had the exact pain you had - crushing and unbearable to the point of almost passing out. I was then given sedation and can't remember anything until they got me onto my bed. So Slattery my advice is, if they've said you'll have sedation insist it's given from the outset. Having said that my ablation for flutter seems to have been successful and my heart feels so much more settled generally. So I would definitely have it done again BUT with sedation right the way through. Good luck

I had a similar experience with a colonoscopy, and in a previous post you advised someone to make sure they were adequately sedated. I agreed. If I ever have an ablation I would stress to them that the normal levels of sedation did not work for me at all. It wouldn't stop me having another colonoscopy or an ablation if needed but I would spell out what happened to me before.

Ianc2 in reply to irene75359

Hi Irene

How long did your recovery take?

irene75359 in reply to Ianc2

Do you mean from the colonoscopy? After the procedure, physically I was absolutely fine, no aches or pains, nothing. However, I had nightmares about the procedure, but when I went back to see the consultant he was such a gracious man and so understanding of what I felt was my trauma he wrote to my GP telling him what had happened. He said the member of his team who had carried out the procedure was experienced, however I had been given the minimum dose of sedative and that I could have been given more. Hence my comment re adequate sedation above. The consultant and his empathy went a long way towards my recovery.

I am scheduled for an ablation in 2 weeks and I was told I would be under General anesthesia . I would rather do it under sedation and asked if I had a choice but EP said no that everyone has to be under GA. I don’t like the sore throat that always happens to me after a procedure under GA.

Ianc2 in reply to Flaka

I understand only the best quality Ice cream will fix this.

Flaka in reply to Ianc2

Sounds good to me.

That's probably in contrast to my EP where the ablaitons would be done under sedation apart from a potential 6th "touch up" where I'd need the TOE down the throat.

I'm quite happy they've all been under sedation, even with the issues I had, because I have a great relationship with my EP as a result.

Hi there , had an svt ablation under sedation on Monday . Took one hour , it was enough , three hours I can’t imagine! I Catheter lab was very cold and a lot going on , not painful but there is a degree of discomfort ! What would I prefer given the choice, to be out cold ! Did leave hospital the same day , with very little details on recovery , so this forum has helped a lot ! Good luck , is your for AF ? And don’t rush your recovery . They told me to go and carry on as normal , I had a physical and emotional meltdown 48 hour later !

I had my cryoablation under sedation and it was around 2.1/2-3 hours. I was away with the fairies most of the time. However I have a very low pain threshold and remember experiencing the most horrendous ice cream headache, I told them and they gave me more sedation. I also remember being given hiccups and it being very cold in the cath lab! I'm the biggest wuss when it comes to procedures, even using numbing cream before I went to blood donors, then having local anaesthetic when I got there but I'd willingly go through another ablation under sedation as since having mine, I've been 2 years AFib free. Everyone's experience is different, I'd say go for it, it may be the best thing you've done!

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