Ask the doctor: Can I have a catheter procedure to stop atrial fibrillation?

Ask the doctor

Can I have a catheter procedure to stop atrial fibrillation?

Published: March, 2009

Q. My doctor told me I should think about having a procedure something like angioplasty to stop my atrial fibrillation. Can you tell me more?

A. I think you are asking about catheter ablation. This procedure is a bit like angioplasty because it is performed without major surgery, using instruments guided into the heart via tiny wires (catheters) that are inserted into a blood vessel in the groin. The similarity ends there, though. Angioplasty opens a closed or blocked coronary artery. Catheter ablation injures small patches of tissue on the heart's inner surface. This destroys the sources of stray electrical signals that trigger and sustain atrial fibrillation, or acts like a roadblock against them.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

New subscriptions to Harvard Health Online are temporarily unavailable. Click the button below to learn about our other subscription offers.

Learn More »