Alcohol septal ablation is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat a condition called hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM).

What is alcohol septal ablation?

Alcohol septal ablation is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat a condition called hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM). It is performed when people with this condition do not respond to treatment with medications and have ongoing symptoms.

How does an alcohol septal ablation procedure work?

The procedure is done by inserting a small flexible tube called a catheter into an artery which supplies the heart muscle with blood. Your doctor gains access to this artery through your groin and the catheter is threaded through the artery to part of the heart called the septum. X-ray machines and ultrasound are used to help guide the doctor as they are threading the catheter.

The balloon at the tip of the catheter is then inflated in the artery so the blood vessel is blocked off temporarily. Your doctor then injects a very small amount of alcohol through the catheter to the target blood vessel. The alcohol causes some of the septum muscle cells to stop contracting, which will decrease the thickening of the septum. Decreasing the thickness of the septum will improve your blood flow through your heart and to the rest of your body.

Where would I go to get an alcohol septal ablation and what can I expect?

In Fraser Health, this procedure is provided at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. You will be referred by your cardiologist or internist to a specialist in interventional cardiology to be evaluated for the procedure.

The interventional cardiologist will provide you with specific preparation instructions for this procedure. The procedure is approximately one to two hours long. Your family can be with you before and after the procedure, but not during.

After this procedure, you will be observed for two to three days in the hospital, so that we can monitor your heart rhythm after the procedure. Some patients may need a pacemaker implanted before discharge if the heart's conduction system is affected. You will be provided with discharge instructions before you go home.

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