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What should I expect after a catheter ablation procedure?

After the procedure, you're moved to a special care unit where you lie still for 4 to 6 hours of recovery. Lying still prevents bleeding at the site where the catheter was inserted.

While you're in the special care unit, you're connected to special devices that measure your heart's electrical activity and blood pressure. The nurses check these monitors continuously. Nurses also check to make sure that there's no bleeding at the catheter insertion site.

Your doctor determines whether you need to stay overnight in the hospital. Some people go home the same day. Others need to stay overnight for 1 or more days. Before you go home, your doctor will tell you:

  • Which medicines you need to take
  • How much physical activity you can do
  • How to care for the area where the catheter was inserted
  • When to see the doctor again

Driving after the procedure may not be safe. Your doctor will let you know if you need to arrange for someone to drive you home.

Recovery and Recuperation: Recovery from catheter ablation is usually quick. You may feel stiff and achy from lying still for 4 to 6 hours after the procedure. In addition, a small bruise may form at the site where the ablation catheter was inserted. The area may feel sore or tender for about a week. Most people are able to return to normal activity in a few days.

Talk to your doctor about signs and symptoms to watch for. Let your doctor know if you have problems such as:

  • A constant or large amount of bleeding at the catheter insertion site that you can't stop with a small bandage
  • Unusual pain, swelling, redness, or other signs of infection at or near the catheter insertion site
  • Strong, rapid, or other irregular heartbeats
  • Fainting

This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.