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What Are the Risks of Catheter Ablation?

Catheter ablation has some risks. The procedure may cause:

  • Bleeding, infection, and pain at the catheter insertion site.
  • Damage to blood vessels. Rarely, the catheters may scrape or poke a hole in a blood vessel as they're threaded to the heart.
  • Puncture of the heart.
  • Damage to the heart's electrical system, which may cause you to need a permanent pacemaker. A pacemaker is a small device that's placed under the skin of your chest or abdomen to help control arrhythmias.
  • Blood clots, which could lead to a stroke or other problems.
  • Narrowing of the veins that carry blood from the lungs to the heart. This narrowing is called stenosis.

Also, catheter ablation involves radiation. Thus, the procedure may increase the risk of cancer, although the risk is small.

As with any procedure involving the heart, complications sometimes can be fatal. However, this is rare with catheter ablation.

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Catheter Ablation Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Catheter Ablation, visit

March 05, 2012 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.