“During the ablation procedure A-Fib doctors actually burn within the heart with RF energy. How does this burning and scarring affect how the heart functions? Should athletes, for example, be concerned that their heart won’t function as well after an ablation?”
Particularly during ablations for persistent (Chronic) A-Fib, long procedures and extensive ablation are often required. These result in significant scarring and damage to heart tissue. But a study from the French Bordeaux group found “recovery of atrial contractile function” (the heart goes back to beating and contracting normally) in 98% of patients in sinus rhythm after six months of follow-up. But less experienced centers that do extensive ablations do run the risk of compromising the pumping ability and transport function of the left atrium. This was a problem with the original Cox Maze operation and is also a risk with the more extensive surgical approaches.
In general, the less ablation and heart scarring, the better. But it’s encouraging that from this preliminary study, even after extensive ablations, the heart usually returns to normal.
Takahashi Y et al. “How to interpret and identify pulmonary vein recordings with the Lasso catheter.” Heart Rhythm 2006;3:748-750.
Return to FAQ Catheter Ablations