Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates

Alcohol Septal Ablation

Alcohol septal ablation is a catheter-based treatment for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. A small amount of pure alcohol is used to destroy some of the thickened heart muscle and replace it with scar tissue, which improves blood flow in and out of the heart.

» Why is alcohol septal ablation performed?
» What happens in alcohol septal ablation procedure?
» What can I expect after alcohol septal ablation?

Why is alcohol septal ablation performed?

Your doctor may recommend alcohol septal ablation if you have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart muscle that can block the flow of blood out of the heart.

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What happens in alcohol septal ablation procedure?

Alcohol septal ablation is performed in a special operating room called a cardiac catheterization laboratory ("cath lab"), and the entire procedure lasts less than 2 hours.

  1. First you are given some medication to help you relax; then your doctor numbs the site where the catheter will be inserted (either in the arm or in the groin) with a local anesthetic.
  2. The doctor uses a needle to make a small hole in your arm or groin and inserts a tapered tube called a sheath into the hole.
  3. A catheter is inserted through the sheath into your blood vessel and navigated to the small artery that supplies the interventricular septum (the wall between the heart's two lower chambers), guided by an imaging method called fluoroscopy.
  4. A small amount of pure alcohol is introduced into the artery, causing a very controlled amount of damage to the thickened part of the septum.
  5. A thinner layer of scar tissue replaces the damaged part of the septum, reducing the obstruction.
  6. When the procedure is complete, your doctor removes the catheter and the sheath and closes the opening in your blood vessel.

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What can I expect after alcohol septal ablation?

After your alcohol septal ablation, you will be moved to a special care unit, where you will be asked to remain still while the catheter insertion site closes. Your care team will check your blood pressure, temperature and other vital signs regularly.

Most patients spend 3 to 4 days in the hospital following alcohol septal ablation. Before you go home, your doctor will give you specific instructions to follow, including how much activity you can do, when and how to take your medications, and how to care for the catheter insertion site. Be sure to follow his or her instructions closely, and feel free to call the office if you have any questions.

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Learn about other catheter-based procedures:

For more information about Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates or to make an appointment, please call us at 713-441-1100 or 888-361-4375, or contact us online.