Alcohol Septal Ablation

What Is Alcohol Septal Ablation?

Alcohol septal ablation is a procedure used to treat hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy to reduce the muscle tissue obstructing the blood flow being ejected from the heart. This procedure is a minimally invasive alternative to open surgical myectomy. The goal of this procedure is to improve blood flow in the heart and improve overall heart function.

What Can an Alcohol Septal Ablation Accomplish?

After an alcohol septal ablation, proper blood flow and circulation is restored to your body, giving you more energy. It can also:

  • Reduce or eliminate heart murmurs or palpitations
  • Reduce or eliminate swelling in feet and legs
  • Reduce or eliminate chest discomfort or pain
  • Enable you to be more physically active without experiencing fatigue or shortness of breath

What Can I Expect During the Procedure?

This procedure is performed in the cardiac catheterization lab using fluoroscopic guidance with an Interventional Cardiologist. During the procedure. catheters are used to cannulate the coronary artery just like in a heart catheterization. Using a guidewire, a balloon tipped catheter is advanced into the septal artery and the balloon is used to isolate the artery and inject alcohol. The alcohol will cause a small controlled infarct of the heart tissue obstructing the blood flow. Over time, this area will scar down and shrink to alleviate the obstruction.


Your recovery will depend heavily on your condition before the procedure and if you have a pacemaker. For those without a pacemaker, recovery includes monitoring with a temporary pacemaker for two days in the hospital to determine the need for a pacemaker after the procedure. If you have a pacemaker, less monitoring is needed.  Patient are able to get back to their prior activity with minimal restrictions after leaving the hospital. 

Estimated Recovery Timeline

Many people feel relief of symptoms almost immediately. You will tire easily in the days following hospital discharge, but your energy will increase as you heal. Make sure to keep your follow-up appointments and follow instructions for heart-healthy eating and exercise.

Alcohol Septal Ablation Possible Risks

Any medical procedure carries risks, but alcohol septal ablation is typically a safe and effective procedure. This biggest risk experienced after this procedure would be the need for a pacemaker, which can vary between 5% to 20% depending on your underlying electrical conduction and arrhythmia. You will be given instructions about how to avoid these specific risks, as well as what to do if you experience these issues after your procedure:

  • Blood clot or damage to the blood vessel at catheter insertion sites
  • Significant blood loss that may require blood transfusion 
  • Infection 
  • Abnormal heart rhythms and need for pacemaker
  • Stroke

Next Steps with MyChart

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