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Discharge Instructions for Catheter Ablation

You have had a procedure called catheter ablation. It was used to treat an abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia). This procedure destroyed (ablated) the cells in your heart that were causing your heart rhythm problem. During the procedure, the healthcare provider put a thin, flexible wire (catheter) into a blood vessel in your groin. You may have also had a catheter placed through a vein in your neck. The provider then threaded the catheter to your heart and destroyed the cells causing the problem.

Home care

Here are recommendations for care at home: 

  • Make arrangements for someone to drive you home after the procedure because you had medicine to relax you (sedation) Your healthcare provider may tell you not to drive for 24 to 48 hours after the procedure.

  • Expect to be able to go back to your normal daily activities in the next 1 to 2 days. These include walking, climbing stairs, and doing household chores.

  • Don't do any heavy physical activity or excessive bending at the waist for several days after the procedure. This will allow your body to heal.

  • Don't lift heavy objects for a period of time after your ablation. Talk with your healthcare provider about any restrictions.

  • Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to work.

  • Check the area where the catheter was inserted for signs of infection every day for a week. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, drainage, or warmth at the incision site. It is normal to have a small bruise or lump where the catheter was inserted. Take your temperature if you feel you may have a fever

  • Take your medicines exactly as directed. Don’t skip doses. You may need to make some changes in your medicines because of the ablation procedure. Be sure to go over your medicine instructions with your healthcare provider before you are discharged.

  • Learn to take your own pulse. Keep a record of your results. Ask your healthcare provider which readings mean that you need medical attention.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your healthcare provider. Your provider will check how the catheter site is healing. In many cases, one ablation is enough to treat an arrhythmia. But sometimes the problem comes back or another problem is found. If this happens, you may need a second procedure.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Redness, pain, swelling, bleeding, or drainage from the area where the catheter was put in

  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness

  • Temperature of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider 

  • Sudden coldness, pain, or numbness in the leg or arm where the catheter was put in

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Difficulty swallowing, excessive pain when swallowing, or vomiting blood

Note: Ask your healthcare provider what to expect about your heartbeat. Sometimes the irregularity goes away right after the procedure. Other times it may take longer to go away.

Online Medical Reviewer: Lu Cunningham RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Quinn Goeringer PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Steven Kang MD
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2016
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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