With some 20 years of history, catheter ablation is considered a relatively new therapy for cardiac arrhythmias (ablation means reduction, removal or vaporization). This therapy involves inserting special electrical wires called electrode catheters and threading the catheters along the path of the blood vessels to reach the heart. Catheter ablation does not require an incision or open-heart surgery.
Radiofrequency electrical current is the more frequently used method of delivering catheter ablation. High-frequency current passing through the tip of a special catheter (a long, thin, flexible tube) heats up and destroys the heart muscle that generates the arrhythmia.
Freezing is another method used to destroy arrhythmia tissue. It, too, is delivered via a catheter. This is called cryoablation.
For many patients, a variety of cardiac arrhythmias can be cured by using catheter ablation. These include supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), atrial flutter, ventricular tachycardia (VT) and atrial fibrillation.