Cryo ablation of AF -under sedation - AF Association

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Cryo ablation of AF -under sedation

Lesleyray profile image

Hi everyone, wasn’t sure about writing my update on my ablation Tues gone, it was terrifying. The following are my discharge summary.

Then procedure was complicated by

1, a profound vasovagal episode requiring atropine and RV pacing.

2, severe pain during procedure

3, agitation causing ablation kit to move during procedure - 30 min continuous Echo surveillance ensured no pericardia effusion.

The ablation partially completed.

During the 2 hour event I was vomiting, to I fell unconscious for a few minutes were my heart and blood pressure dropped dramatically. I was wide awake even though they kept upping the sedation, the pain on my right side was the reason I fell unconscious, I came around with a doctor kneading the middle of my chest very heavily.

I don’t know what went wrong as with all the articles was expecting an easy fairly pain free procedure. The cardiologist explained they could only do 2 out of the 4 and will have to have it again but they will go through a different route, hopefully GA and was I aware of being unconscious, err no.

Since tues I cannot sleep, have had to panic attacks that my own doctor this morning has prescribed a week’s diazepam hoping it will calm me down.

What an earth went wrong, has anyone else experienced this under sedation .

My discharge summary did say it was a AF ablation -complicated

55 Replies

So sorry you have had such a horrendous experience. No wonder you feel so shocked. Not heard of any one having it so bad but clearly it happens as you have shown,

Not had an ablation myself as yet but i do know my EP has said he does them under GA as he doesn't want patients moving or being overly stressed during the procedure. GA will be your option i guess should you need a further ablation. I would go for GA every time but that's just my personal opinion. I hope you feel better soon and can get back to a calm state, little wonder you have felt so bad.

Give yourself a break and time to calm and regroup. All will be well i am confident of it. Best wishes.

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to meadfoot

Thank you so much for your reply and wishes, I will go for a GA next time if this one hasn’t worked

Nigel2000 profile image
Nigel2000 in reply to Lesleyray

And a different more experienced doctor.

wilsond profile image
wilsond in reply to Nigel2000

Difficulty is being sure if getting the one you choose on the day! My own EP who I researched well said it would ' probably be me but may be soneone else depending on the list !)Ooh err...

So sorry this happened to you. I’ve heard of people for whom sedation hasn’t been as effective as they would have wished but nothing like the type of reaction you experienced.

I no expert but I wonder whether you had a very bad reaction to one of the drugs?

I awoke from my 1st ablation to someone doing CPR on me as my heart had stopped but I came round very quickly and had no pain or other symptoms.

It sounds as though you have been traumatised by the event so I would push for a little more than a mild sedative. I think I would also want to talk to the EP - did the EP come talk you through what happened? I think explanations are in order.

Was there an aesthetist present administering the sedatives & monitoring you? How many ablations does the cardiologist perform per year?

I would suggest you contact the Patient Liaison Office of the hospital and ask for support for a fuller explanation.

Hope you feel better very soon & that the ablation was at least partly successful.

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to CDreamer

Hi, the registrar didn’t explain much but I’m ringing the consultants office on Monday for a callback for an explanation of where it went wrong, yes, the aesthetician was there all the time and he was giving me more sedation but appears not enough, I will certainly pursue it further, thank you for replying

Blooming heck - you must feel traumatised! I'm so sorry. I definitely felt pain under sedation with my RF ablation and they complained about my wriggling. But I was out after the first few stabs of pain so didn't suffer any trauma in the way you quite naturally are. My body however did remember I'm sure. Might you consider a bit of hypnotherapy to help with the trauma effect? Alternatively you totally have the right to request some talk therapy to help.

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Singwell

Hi, my doctor is ringing back on thurs to see how I’m coping and she has suggested I talk it through with a councillor and long term medication if I cannot get passed it, hopefully as the days pass it will get easier to deal with, my hopes were so high but onwards and upwards as they say

Singwell profile image
Singwell in reply to Lesleyray

I completely understand. I didn't have your experience but they did tell me after the procedure that they weren't sure it would hold long term - 60% likelihood of needing it to be repeated. It's crushing. Others on here advised me to do my best to think positively and to nurture myself so that at least my body could have a chance of healing whatever the outcome. Here's hoping you get the support you need.

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Singwell

Thank you, here’s hoping to

When you say "a profound vasovagal episode" do you mean you fainted? A drop in blood pressure?

What a shame it all went so badly. I hope some good came out of it.

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Physalis

I have no idea, the registrar just said I was unconscious for a length of time and my heart and blood pressure were dropping rapidly, I do have very low heart rate and normal BP, until I hopefully speak to my cardiologist I just do not know, when the registrar discharged me he seemed reluctant to go into detail and I wasn’t in a place mentally to ask, I was in AF when I was recovering in the ACU on oxygen and heart monitoring equipment which I suspect is normal procedure. I hope it works to, thanks for replying

I really feel for you. Will send you a private message.


Thank you

So sorry you have had such a horrible experience. There seem to be a few people who are resistant to sedation and I think they should have stopped as soon as they realised there was a problem. I have had ‘ptsd’ type symptoms after a bad experience in hospital and it is very hard to recover from so I am glad your trauma is being taken seriously 💜

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Buffafly

Thank you, me to

Sorry you had such a bad time , I wish you a speedy recovery from the trauma you experienced x

Thank you so much

I am so sorry you have had such an awful time. You need answers and have every right to find out what happened. I really hope the consultant explains it all to you and you understand and fell happy with their answers. If not then keep asking until you do. Please let us know how you get on. xxx

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Frances123

Thank you I will, folk on here have been so kind with their replies

Nigel2000 profile image
Nigel2000 in reply to Frances123

Speaking for myself, I would demand that the hospital review what happened. This is WAY out of the norm.

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Nigel2000

I certainly will

That sounds awful and so frightening. I wish you well

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Nan1

Thank you

I too had a similar experience and felt very traumatised. After all that it didn't work. I have agreed to having another one but only if I can have a GA. This was agreed with my EP and I have been on waiting list 3 years now. I have learned to live with AF although it's debilitating during episodes and I have had a couple of TIA s. Hope you are able to overcome your trauma, it took me sometime my GP was very supportive. X

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Wendy97

Thank you and wish you well, my doctor has always been very supportive and even she was shocked at the way it went

Hi Lesleyray

I’m so sorry you had such an horrendous experience. I too have Paroxysmal AF. I have to say my experience was so frightening when I was told I needed a second ablation I explained to the EP my experience of the first one and asked if it could be done under GA, I was told they don’t do that. As a result, I refused the second ablation. I had a terrible experience during mine with pain feeling like I had been kicked as hard as possible in my side by a Dr Martin’s boot which I understand was a Vasovagal episode I then panicked and was told it was imperative I stayed still, when I asked them to stop it as I was in such pain with each blow the surgeon asked for sedation to be increased and said they couldn’t stop now and what I was experiencing was a sensation of hiccups!!! This was nothing like hiccups. I was left terrified. So unless they give me a GA I won’t be having another ablation and continue to try and manage it as best I can. Good luck for the future


Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Doddsey-UK

Hi, thank you, that sounds just what happened to me, I’ve never in my life experience such pain and was helpless to do anything about it,when my son picked me up I couldn’t stop crying and poor hubby just held me for hours. If I ever have to do it again hubby says if they won’t give me GA we will go private until we do. Best wishes

Ducky2003 profile image
Ducky2003 in reply to Doddsey-UK

The EP told me what was coming at each step (I'm resistant to sedation so was awake far more than I wanted to be) and I was warned the "hiccups" were coming. Hiccups my butt! I was jolting around the trolley. Apparently, it's a pacing procedure so that they know what degree of freezing they can do without damaging the phrenic nerve. If I end up having to go through that again, I would be considering the GA route.

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Ducky2003

I certainly will have GA if I need another one

No, my 2 ablations were completely pain free except for start of probe insertion. So sorry you had such a traumatic experience.

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Smileyian

Thank you

Best wishes. Most ablations are easier I am sure but a simple procedure it is not!

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to secondtry

Definitely not and thank you

HiSorry to hear of your panic attacks

I’m a coach and read extensively on psychology and trauma

Please could I suggest u consider some trauma therapy for the psychological trauma u have suffered. That should b much better in the long term and hopefully avoid drugs.

My very best wishes for your recovery

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Guitar335

Thank you, yes, my doctor has suggested it if I cannot get passed it, luckily my doctor is strict with giving this type of medicine out,thank you for your wishes

How horrible for you, but as you say, onwards and upwards!🤞

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to bassets

Certainly will

Just to add my best wishes fir you to recover from an awful episode. I'm afraid I agree that this warrants a full explanation by the consultant,and possibly a complaint. I can't believe to they just carried on regardless.Thank you for posting because we all need to know these things can happen,fir our own decisions on ablation . I know many have no problems but that's no comfort.

I have only been offered sedation too but seriously thinking about it.( Not just based on your review)

So many factors.

Please take good care and think of trying some of the suggestions on here.

Best wishes x

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to wilsond

Thank you for your wishes, I was nervous putting my post on about this but I felt confident that this forum would like to know the good and the not so good about ablations thereby giving a more honest view of the few that wasn’t so lucky to have a smooth experience

Ducky2003 profile image
Ducky2003 in reply to Lesleyray

So sorry you had such a terrible experience. I have been posting my post ablation updates for the past few weeks and would rather give it warts and all and would also prefer to see others experiences in that way too. I am envious of those who have had a straightforward procedure and recovery but your posting shows that there can be problems and we should always take that into account.

If I have to have another one, then I will be asking questions about GA as I just accepted it was going to be sedation (and I'm resistant to sedation).

They certainly need to give you a full explanation of what happened and are probably hoping you will just let it rest.

I hope that your recovery is gentle and that you can put the distress behind you.

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Ducky2003

Thank you, hubby is making sure I get plenty of rest and with the beautiful weather many an hour on the swing seat, I am hoping that I can get through to my cardiologist on Monday

Your experience sounds absolutely horrendous and any experience, good or bad, is useful to other members on the forum. You need all the help you can get to get through this and I am so sorry you are so traumatised (not surprisingly).

I had a colonoscopy five years ago and in spite of having sedation and pain relief was in utter agony, I felt as if I was being disembowled by a butcher's hook. I was struggling, the nurses were holding me but I was in this weird twilight world. I remembered everything in spite of being given the memory loss drug and wrote my experience down and gave the note to the consultant on my next visit as I couldn't talk without crying.

But that was nothing and very short in comparison to your experience. I am thinking of you, do let us know how you are in your healing process.

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to irene75359

Thank you, I will write it all down as you did so I don’t forget anything and I will update

Sounds horrendous. Glad you got through it okay and hope youmfeel better soon xx

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Jajarunner

Thank you

My God!! You've been through the ringer!! Your reaction to the whole procedure is extremely brave, I certainly would have reacted very poorly to the circumstances. It sounds like you need time to calm down and gather your thoughts and emotions. And before you proceed with the same doctors who did this ablation, I would call for a thorough explanation of what happened. This whole thing sounds unacceptable. Have you any information about the level of experience of your doctors? They need to provide you with evidence of their competence level. Or can you call for new doctors? Well, at least you came out of this knowing you have a strong heart and one hell of a lot of fortitude! Blessings to you, and please focus on the fact that soon all this will be resolved and things will be back to normal.

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Kingst

Thank you for your blessings, unfortunately, with it being the NHS the choice of consultants is not offered, I never even thought of doing research, my cardiologist does NHS work as well as private so put my trust in her fully and with the covid the last 18 months all been by telephone

My goodness! What a nightmare. You need a new EP —- yours sounds like A little shop of horrors doctor. YES —- get trauma therapy right away so you learn some techniques to help you over this. I’m so so sorry this happened and hope you heal well and soon.

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Nigel2000

Thank you, once I’ve spoken to the cardiologist and find exactly what happened I will then liaise with my doctor regarding therapy

Hi Lesleyray so sorry you've had this awful experience.Do you know what or how much medication was used? I would certainly push for a full explanation of what happenned.and consider making a complaint via PALS who should investigate further.

I recently had a Transesophageal echocardiogram under sedation but don't think I received sufficient . It hurt and I couldn't breathe and remembered it all. I wish now I had made a complaint as it may help future patients.Have had other procedures under sedation with no problem so can make a comparison.

I'm due for ablation with sedation on Weds and dreading it!

With counselling the NHS wait in this area is very long. Could you afford to go privately?

Best wishes and hope you feel better soon x

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to honey1958

No idea how much medication was administered, sorry and yes will go private if list is long.Thank you for your best wishes and good luck for wed x

Hi lesleyray, that sounds terrifying for you. I’m sorry to hear that. Iv had 3 ablations the first under sedation and I was aware of everything that was going on and it wasn’t nice.!!!! That is why I had the next two under G/A. 👍

Lesleyray profile image
Lesleyray in reply to Jetcat

Hi, yes I’m ringing the cardiologist secretary this morning, I’m due for a telephone consultation in 3 months, not going to wait that long

Jetcat profile image
Jetcat in reply to Lesleyray

I hope you feel better soon mate. Let us know how you get on and keep us updated. 👍

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