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Medical Care & Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation Therapy

Many types of medications are used to successfully treat arrhythmias. At the University of Chicago, our electrophysiologists take special care to prescribe the best combination of medications to treat arrhythmias. These same specialists are actively researching new medications and can sometimes offer experimental drugs that are not widely available at other hospitals.

Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation

Radiofrequency catheter ablation revolutionized the treatment of many types of cardiac arrhythmias. This treatment can offer a permanent cure for some types of arrhythmias instead of a lifetime of symptoms and drug treatments. Cardiac Center electrophysiologists are among the nation's leaders in catheter ablation.

Ablation procedures are performed in our state-of-the-art electrophysiology lab, often in three to five hours. The procedure involves the use of a specially designed catheter that is threaded through the leg into the heart. While in the heart, the catheter is used to locate the arrhythmia source, which is then eliminated by high frequency radio waves.

Our team is now using a new high-tech catheterization system that relies on giant computer-controlled magnets to guide catheters into place. Instead of the doctor manually manipulating the catheter to multiple locations within the heart, a magnetic field gently steers the catheter tip through a predetermined path within the heart.

Many people can leave the hospital the same day of the procedure, though some may need to stay one night. A cure rate of 98 percent with very little risk can be achieved in people who have common forms of supraventricular tachycardia without associated heart disease. A high success rate can also be achieved with other types of arrhythmias, including some forms of ventricular tachycardia and atrial fibrillation. »Learn more about atrial fibrillation treatment

Ablation can be performed during surgery, typically if the person is also having surgery for other types of heart problems, such as heart valve disease or coronary artery disease.