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Alcohol Septal Ablation

What is alcohol septal ablation?

Alcohol septal ablation is a non-surgical procedure to treat hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This is an inherited condition in which your heart muscle is abnormally thick. This procedure decreases your symptoms and to reduces future complications.

Your left and right ventricles are the 2 lower chambers of your heart. A muscular wall called the septum separates these 2 ventricles. In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the walls of your ventricles and septum may thicken abnormally. The septum may bulge into your left ventricle and partially block the blood flow out to your body. This places extra pressure on your heart. It also contributes to many symptoms of the disease. These may include fatigue and shortness of breath.

Alcohol septal ablation requires a thin, flexible tube called a catheter. It has a balloon at the tip. The cardiologist threads the tube through a blood vessel in your groin all the way to the artery that carries blood to your septum., then injects alcohol, through the tube, into the area where the heart is too thick. The alcohol is toxic and causes some of your heart muscle cells to shrink and die. Remaining scar tissue is thinner than the heart muscle. This improves blood flow through your heart and out to your body.

Ethanol Ablation

This procedure, also called septal ablation, is reserved for patients who are not eligible candidates for septal myectomy. The ablation procedure is performed in the cardiac catheterization laboratory.

First, the small coronary artery that supplies blood flow to the upper part of the septum is located during a cardiac catheterization procedure. A balloon catheter is inserted into the artery and inflated. A contrast agent is injected to locate the thickened septal wall that narrows the passageway from the left ventricle to the aorta.

When the bulge is located, a tiny amount of pure alcohol is injected through the catheter. The alcohol kills the cells on contact, causing the septum to shrink back to a more normal size over the following months, widening the passage for blood flow.