Alcohol Septal Ablation

If you have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), we can relieve symptoms such as difficulty breathing and chest pain. We can safely and effectively treat the condition with a minimally invasive procedure called alcohol septal ablation.

Doctors at our Center for Structural Heart Disease have also developed an additional, innovative use for this procedure. If you need a mitral valve replacement, alcohol ablation may make you eligible for a clinical trial of a minimally invasive approach.

Why choose Henry Ford Health System for alcohol septal ablation?

Henry Ford doctors have more than 20 years of experience managing HCM with alcohol septal ablation. The procedure safely thins bulky heart muscle to help your heart beat more efficiently, with less effort.

Learn more about what to expect from a minimally invasive heart procedure at Henry Ford.

Alcohol septal ablation and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is genetic, meaning people inherit it from a parent. It causes your heart muscle to thicken and stops your heart from working like it should. Blood flowing out of your heart may get obstructed, for example. The obstruction forces your heart to pump much harder and can cause your mitral valve to leak, allowing blood to flow backward. Also, your heart’s electrical system may get disrupted, leading to irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias.

HCM may eventually lead to serious complications. But our doctors take an active approach to managing this condition. If more extensive treatment is needed and surgery is not a better option, alcohol septal ablation can safely thin out targeted heart muscle. Doing so can relieve symptoms and protect your heart and health.

Learn more about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

How does alcohol septal ablation help HCM?

Alcohol septal ablation is a catheter-based procedure. Your doctor threads a thin, flexible tube — the catheter — through an artery to reach your heart. When the catheter is in place, your doctor uses it to inject very small amounts of alcohol. The alcohol goes into the blood vessels supplying thickened heart muscle with blood.

This injection safely destroys excess heart muscle, allowing blood to flow more easily through the heart’s valves and chambers, as intended.

How is alcohol septal ablation used in mitral valve replacement?

Some people need their mitral valve replaced but can’t have surgery, so doctors are testing a minimally invasive alternative. Still, some possible candidates can’t participate because their heart chambers are too small. Trying to replace the existing mitral valve in these cases can obstruct blood flow out of another valve, the aortic valve. This obstruction can be a fatal complication.

Alcohol septal ablation can avoid this problem, helping you become eligible for the mitral valve replacement if you otherwise qualify. Four to six weeks before your mitral valve replacement, your doctor uses alcohol ablation to make more room inside your heart. Interventional cardiologists perform the procedure the same way they do for HCM. Your doctor can help you decide if this treatment is right for you, depending on your personal needs.

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