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What are the risks of an AF ablation?

An AF ablation procedure is of course not without some risk.

There is a small risk of bleeding at the top of the leg and even damage to the veins in the leg.

Bleeding around the heart (tamponade) can occur in around 1% of cases which usually requires drainage and a few more days in hospital.

Very serious complications such as stroke or damage to the swallowing tube (oesophagus) are now very rare indeed thankfully.

Although it is extremely rare, some complications have led to patients dying, and be aware that this has been reported in around 1 in 2000 cases.

For comparison, patients having an elective hip or knee replacement have a 1 in 300 risk of dying of complications i.e. much higher than with AF ablation.

When using cryoablation, some frostbite to the nerve supplying the diaphragm can occur, but this is almost always temporary recovering within a couple of weeks, and manifests itself as slight breathlessness only usually. In my practice, the rate of this is now extremely low, and less than 1% for any problem lasting more than a few hours.

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