Q: What is radiofrequency ablation?
A: Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is an invasive procedure aimed and creating thin scars in the atria in order to interrupt the arrhythmia. The idea is that by creating these scars (using radio waves) the electrical conduction of the arrhythmias is made impossible. There are different ways of performing RFA but all of them require inserting a wire (catheter) in the right and left atria. The catheters are usually inserted through the femoral vein and femoral artery (other approaches can be used). The doctor first records a map of the electrical activation of the atria to select the best zone to apply the RF energy. Than he/she deliver a series of electrical impulses and re-checks the electrical activation map to assess the effects of the RFA trreatment. At the end of the procedure the doctor tries to induce atrial fibrillation to demonstrate that the arrhythmia is no longer inducible. In some instances the ablation is not complete and the arrhythmias can recur even if the initial result of RFA is satisfactory.