Surgery can be used to:
During radiofrequency catheter ablation, abnormal electrical circuits in the heart that generate harmful rhythms can be located and destroyed. A catheter is introduced through a vein and advanced until it reaches your heart. Then, electrodes are heated with a radiofrequency energy that subsequently destroys areas of the heart tissue that cause the arrhythmia. This procedure is most frequently used to treat atrial flutter, atrial fibrillation, or ventricular tachycardia.
The Maze procedure is a technique used to surgically treat atrial fibrillation (AF) that involves making several small incisions within the wall of the atria. This results in the formation of scar tissue that blocks the electrical impulses that cause the arrhythmia.
The Maze procedure may also be done as minimally invasive surgery, called mini-Maze. It only requires one or two small incisions in the chest.
If the sinoatrial node malfunctions or stops working, an artificial pacemaker can be implanted to generate regular impulses. Pacemakers are implanted during a minor procedure. A wire is attached to your heart either through a blood vessel or directly into the chest. The wire is also attached to the device. An incision is made, and the device is placed under your skin, usually near the collarbone.
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a device that can help change dangerous arrhythmias to healthy ones. It can also stimulate a heart that has had a sudden cardiac arrest. The implant sits just under the skin in the chest and wires are passed through a blood vessel to the heart. An ICD is used for people with serious ventricular heart arrhythmias. These arrhythmias are very likely to lead to cardiac arrest and death. The ICD can send signals to:
Pacemakers and ICDs have power sources that last a long time. Nevertheless, they should be checked occasionally to make sure they are still working. Your cardiologist will give you instructions on the care and maintenance of your device.
Colucci R, Silver M, Shubrook J. Common types of supraventricular tachycardia: Diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 2010;82(8):942-952.
Horowitz LN, Harken AH, Kastor JA, Josephson ME. Ventricular resection guided by epicardial and endocardial mapping for treatment of recurrent ventricular tachycardia. N Engl J Med. 1980;302(11):589-593.
How are arrhythmias treated? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr/treatment. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed March 20, 2014.
Pacemakers. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T906162/Pacemakers. Updated April 20, 2017. Accessed June 1, 2017.
Last reviewed June 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.