Alcohol Septal Ablation

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By injecting a small amount of pure alcohol to destroy abnormally thickened heart muscle and replace it with scar tissue, alcohol septal ablation — a minimally invasive catheter-based procedure — improves blood flow in and out of the heart.

Alcohol Septal Ablation Procedure
Alcohol septal ablation is performed in a special operating room called a cardiac catheterization laboratory (cath lab). The entire procedure lasts less than two hours.

In addition to relaxing sedatives, patients receive a local anesthetic to numb the catheter insertion site. The doctor uses a needle to make a small incision in either the arm or groin and inserts a tapered tube called a sheath into the hole.

A catheter is inserted through the sheath and navigated, using an imaging method called fluoroscopy, through a blood vessel to the small artery that supplies the interventricular septum (the wall between the heart's two lower chambers). 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. A thinner layer of scar tissue replaces the damaged part of the septum, reducing the obstruction.

When the procedure is complete, the doctor removes the catheter and sheath and closes the opening in the blood vessel.

Alcohol Septal Ablation Recovery
The patient is moved to a special care unit, where it is important to remain as still as possible while the catheter insertion site closes. Most patients spend three to four days in the hospital following alcohol septal ablation, with a care team regularly checking vital signs and the insertion site closure progress. 

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