Dr Philip Cumpston

M.B.B.S. (SYD), F.A.N.Z.C.A., F.C.I.C.M., F.F.A.C.E.M.

Visiting Senior Specialist Anaesthetist

Senior Lecturer, The University of Queensland

Anaesthesia for specific procedures:

Catheter Ablation For Atrial Fibrillation/flutter

This procedure can last from three to eight hours. It usually takes around three and a half hours to complete. During that time, the cardiologist needs the patient to remain still, breathing regularly without straining or coughing.

During the procedure a drug called heparin is given to ensure that no clots form around the ablation catheter. This is to help prevent any chance of a stroke. The heparin is reversed when the procedure is completed, so that the catheters inserted by the cardiologist can be removed before you wake up.

If you are taking warfarin, aspirin, pradaxa (dabigatran), apixaban (elequis), rivaroxaban (Xarelto), please continue these as you normally would. This helps me to adjust the dose of heparin more easily.

You will start waking up in the catheter ablation suite. A plastic mask will be placed over your nose and mouth to make sure you get extra oxygen at that time. This does not mean that anything is wrong. It is standard procedure to help remove any anaesthetic agents, and to make sure you remain safe while being transported to the recovery ward.

By the time you get to the recovery ward, you should be awake enough to discuss any concerns you may have.

Watchman procedure

The anaesthetic for the Watchman procedure is very like the one for catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation. The only difference is that the Watchman procedure usually takes between ninety minutes and two hours. There may be some occasions where anatomical variation makes the procedure take longer.