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What risks are involved in a Radiofrequency Ablation Procedure?

Radiofrequency ablation procedures are performed on a daily basis at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. It is a common and very low-risk procedure. However, should a complication arise, it will be dealt with at once.

The world wide complication rate for Radiofrequency ablation procedures is less than 0.5%.

Although most people undergoing Radiofrequency ablation do not experience any complications, you should be aware of the following risks:

  • Local bleeding, blood clot or haematoma (blood collection) - this may occur at the catheter insertion site.

  • Rapid abnormal heart rhythm - this may actually cause you to pass out for a very short period of time and in some cases a small electric shock may be required to restore your normal rhythm.

  • Perforation or damage - very slight chance that this may occur to either a heart chamber or to the wall of one of the arteries.

  • Heartblock - depending on the location and type of your abnormal rhythm being ablated, there is a chance of damage occurring to the heart’s normal electrical system (the AV node).  This may be temporary, but permanent damage would result in a permanent pacemaker being inserted. This would have to be performed immediately at the time of the procedure.

Major complications - stroke, heart attack, death are very rare.  More than 1200 patients with supraventricular tachycardia have been successfully treated at The Royal Melbourne Hospital during the last ten years by radio-frequency ablation, and no major complications have occurred.

Radio-frequency ablation is an effective and safe way to cure patients suffering from Supra-ventricular tachycardia.

Please do not hesitate to discuss any aspect of the procedure including potential complications with your doctor.

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Melbourne Heart Rhythm is the arrhythmia service at the Department of Cardiology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. We are comprised of a team of highly trained and dedicated health care professionals specializing in heart rhythm management. We have a strong focus on patient education and patient centered care. Our arrhythmia specialists have an international reputation of excellence in arrhythmia research and clinical arrhythmia management.