What can I Expect During an Ablation Procedure?

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  • Written By: Lori Smith
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2019
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    Conjecture Corporation
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An ablation procedure is a surgical method of destroying or removing tissue, or unwanted cells, from various parts of the body. Depending on the location of the cells and method a surgeon uses, the type of anesthesia you receive may vary. Most individuals are placed under general anesthesia, but others simply receive a local numbing agent or sedative to make them more comfortable. Most of the time, an ablation procedure is done on an outpatient basis, though more complex surgeries may require an overnight hospital stay.

If general anesthesia will be used for your ablation procedure, an intravenous (IV) tube is first placed into your vein with a needle. Most people feel an initial pinch, but once the IV is in place, many patients forget it is there. This makes it easier for the doctors and hospital staff to administer fluids or medication without having to stick you multiple times with needles.

Before any sedatives are dispensed, an anesthesiologist will usually speak to you. He introduces himself and confirms information that is in your chart. Specifically, he will probably want to know if you have ever had surgery before, or question you about any allergies you may have. If you have questions or concerns about anesthesia, he will be able to address them for you.


Do not be alarmed if the anesthesiologist wants to examine your throat and mouth. He is likely checking your esophageal opening so he knows what size intubation tube is most appropriate for you. He may also want to know about any recent dental work you have had, including any bridges or crowns on your teeth. This is to ensure that nothing interferes with the respiratory device used during general anesthesia.

Just before it is time for your ablation procedure, a sedative may be given to you through your IV. You will likely feel the effects of it very quickly. It has an amnesiac quality to it, so it is very possible that you will not remember anything else until you wake up in the recovery room.

After surgery, most patients believe that only seconds have passed, when in fact, several hours may have gone by and the ablation procedure is complete. You might also feel groggy when you awake. Some discomfort at the surgical site is also normal. The recovery room nurse will usually offer you pain medication.

Some surgeries are more complex than other ones. Even an ablation procedure that requires general anesthesia can be done on an outpatient basis, meaning that you are allowed to go home on the same day. Some procedures, however, may require that you stay in the hospital for a day or two.

If you are scheduled for a catheter ablation procedure to correct a heart arrhythmia, it is often performed under general anesthesia. The same is usually true for endometrial ablations. Due to the effects of the medication used during these procedures, you will typically not be allowed to drive for the next 24 hours, though recovery times vary.

Before you leave the hospital or outpatient facility, a nurse provides you with written discharge instructions. Prescriptions for medications, if the doctor ordered them for you, will also be supplied. She may inform you about any follow-up appointments you will need to make as well as any other surgical wound care instructions.



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