Atrial Fibrillation (AF) Ablation

What is AF Ablation?

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) Ablation is a specialised procedure aimed at treating atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm disorder characterized by irregular and rapid heartbeats. Abnormal impulses arising from the pulmonary veins and entering the left atrial chamber are the most common trigger for AF. The usual approach for AF ablation is known as a pulmonary vein isolation (PVI). Using targeted electrical energy (such as heat or electric current), these areas can be isolated, aiming to restore and maintain normal heart rhythm.

Before undergoing AF ablation, your Specialist will provide thorough instructions on preparation, which may involve fasting and adjusting medications. The procedure takes place in a cardiac catheterization laboratory (Cath Lab) and is usually performed under general anaesthetic. 

Throughout the procedure, your vital signs will be monitored closely by a team of skilled healthcare professionals. A catheter is guided from the femoral vein in the groin to the heart, where the cardiologist delivers targeted energy to create scar tissue, interrupting the abnormal electrical pathways causing AF. The duration of the procedure varies but usually lasts 2-3 hours.

While AF ablation is generally safe, there are potential risks, including:

  • Bleeding or bruising at the catheter insertion site
  • Infection
  • Damage to other heart structures
  • Allergic reactions to medications or contrast dye
  • Rarely, more serious complications such as stroke or heart attack


Your medical team will take precautions to minimise these risks and address any complications promptly.

After AF ablation, you will be monitored in a recovery area for a period of time to ensure your stability. Usually, you will remain in hospital overnight and be discharged home the following day. You may experience some discomfort in the groin at the catheter insertion site, but this is typically manageable with pain medication. Your Specialist will give you specific post-procedure instructions, which may include:

  • Limiting physical activity for a specified period
  • Taking prescribed medications as directed
  • Monitoring for signs of complications, such as excessive bleeding or irregular heart rhythm
  • Attending follow-up appointments to assess your progress and discuss any concerns


Your Specialist will provide guidance on when you can resume normal activities and answer any questions you may have about your recovery process.