Cardiac (Heart) Ablation for Children

A cardiac (heart) ablation is a procedure to treat heart arrhythmias. An ablation is done by placing long, soft, flexible tubes called catheters into the big blood vessels in the body. These catheters are used for diagnosis of the arrhythmia and ablation where they burn or freeze an area in the heart to eliminate the source of the arrhythmia. Ablation can cure arrhythmias that occur in the upper chambers (atria) or lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart.

During an ablation, small areas of scar are created by burning or freezing the spot the arrhythmia comes from. This eliminates the electrical signals causing the arrhythmia, which then prevents it from happening in the future.

Once the heart’s electrical activity has been studied (EP study) and the source of the arrhythmia has been identified, your heart rhythm doctor decides if it is safe to do the ablation. In rare cases, the extra electrical connection is so close to heart's regular electrical system that your doctor may not want to risk accidentally damaging the regular electrical parts of the heart and will decide not to do the ablation.

Before Your Visit

Before a patient is brought in for an ablation, their heart rhythm doctor will want to have an electrocardiogram (ECG) that shows an arrhythmia. This is because the symptoms of an arrhythmia – like palpitations or dizziness – can be caused by many different things that don’t require an EP study and won’t be helped by an ablation.

If a patient is having severe enough symptoms, though, their doctor may recommend an EP study even without a documented arrhythmia.

On the inside

To perform the ablation, a special catheter is placed that can sense, pace, AND burn or freeze inside the heart. Depending on the location of the abnormal electricity, one may burn or freeze the abnormal circuit, but sometimes they may use both during the same procedure.

Once the area of abnormal electricity has been ablated, they will start a waiting period in the procedure room. Usually, this waiting period lasts about 30 minutes, but may be longer for some patients. During this time, your doctor will repeat a lot of the pacing tests they did at the beginning of the procedure. They are basically checking their work – looking to make sure the short circuit is actually gone and that the arrhythmia cannot be triggered anymore. If more tachycardia is seen, your doctor may decide to do more ablation – and then repeat the waiting period afterwards.

Last updated on November 19, 2021

Keep Exploring

Heart Rhythm Disorders
Millions of people experience irregular or abnormal heartbeats, called arrhythmias, at some point in their lives. Most of the time, they are harmless and happen in healthy people free of heart disease. However, some abnormal heart rhythms can be serious or even deadly. Having other types of heart disease can also increase the risk of arrhythmias.
Pediatrics and Congenital Heart Disease (CHD)
This section is for pediatric patients and families living with heart rhythm disorders and heart rhythm disorders related to congenital heart disease (CHD).
Early Warning Signs
If you are experiencing a racing, pounding, rumbling or flopping feeling in your chest or if you have been fainting, having repeated dizzy spells, feeling lightheaded or you are extremely fatigued, it's time to see a doctor to discuss your heart health.
Common Treatments
Learning about the underlying cause of any heart rhythm disorder provides the basis for selecting the best treatment plan. Information and knowledge about care options, and their risks and benefits help you work with your health care provider to make the best choices.
Since other heart disorders increase the risk of developing abnormal heart rhythms, lifestyle changes often are recommended. Living a “heart healthy” lifestyle can ease the symptoms experienced with heart rhythm disorders and other heart disorders, and can be beneficial to overall patient health.
The Normal Heart
The heart is a fist-sized muscle that pumps blood through the body 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without rest. The normal heart is made up of four parts: two atria on the top of the heart (right atrium and left atrium), and two ventricles (right ventricle and left ventricle) which are the muscular chambers on the bottom of the heart that provide the major power to pump blood.