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Pediatric Cardiac Ablation

Cardiac ablation is a treatment for arrhythmias. The goal of ablation is to destroy the area of the heart tissue that is causing the abnormal heart rhythm. Our electrophysiology (EP) team has more than 20 years of experience performing ablation procedures on children.

Cardiac Ablation at Children’s National

When you come to Children’s National Heart Institute, you are choosing a center that is committed to your child’s heart health. Our EP team consists entirely of pediatric specialists who have dedicated their careers to diagnosing and treating heart rhythm disorders in children. In fact, we are one of the only heart centers in the region that focuses specifically on pediatric heart care.

Our child-focused approach to cardiac ablation includes:

  • Experienced electrophysiologists. At Children’s National, caring for children is all we do. Performing an ablation procedure on a child is different than performing one on an adult. We have the necessary expertise and experience to provide your child with the best outcome possible.
  • Pediatric trained nurses. Our nursing staff helps care your child before, during and after the procedure, offering physical and emotional support for our littlest patients.
  • Smaller catheters. We designed the entire procedure around children’s smaller bodies. The smaller catheter size means a more comfortable procedure and recovery for your child.
  • Pre- and post-procedure care. We make sure your child is comfortable and ready for the procedure. After, children receive care in our highly regarded Cardiac Procedure Recovery Unit. There, pediatric nurses help your child recover in a pleasant, warm environment.

Cardiac Ablation Procedures

There are a few different types of cardiac ablation procedures that we perform. Before most procedures, we use a special “mapping” catheter to perform 3-D mapping. This provides detailed images of the heart and locates exactly where the broken electrical circuit is.

Ablation procedures include:

  • Radiofrequency ablation. This works by using heat to destroy the abnormal heart tissue.
  • Cryoablation. During this procedure, we use a special gas that freezes the heart tissue.
  • Fluoroscopy ablation. Fluoroscopy is a tool to help doctors during the ablation procedure. It uses X-ray technology to guide the procedure.
  • X-ray free ablation. This novel approach allows us to map and guide the catheter without exposing the child to radiation.
  • Outpatient ablation. Children over 3 years of age may be candidates for an outpatient procedure. This means your child can go home the same day.

Cardiac Ablation: What to Expect

While every child is different, here is a general idea of what you can expect during a cardiac ablation. The procedure takes place in our EP lab.

Our pediatric EP team will:

  1. Place your child under sedation. He or she will not feel any pain during the procedure.
  2. Connect your child to monitors in order to check his or her heart rhythm and any arrhythmias as we perform the ablation.
  3. Insert the catheters into a blood vessel and thread them to the heart.
  4. Use the catheters to locate the area where the arrhythmia is originating.
  5. Send energy through the catheter to stop the irregular electric signals.
  6. Monitor your child to ensure that we restored a normal heartbeat.

After the procedure, your child recovers in our Cardiac Procedure Recovery Room. There, pediatric nurses and staff will care and support your child as he or she recovers.

Contact Us

For more information, call us at 202-476-2020.

Children's Team

Children's Team


Jeffrey Moak

Jeffrey Moak

Director, Electrophysiology Program


Cardiac Catheterization

We perform hundreds of catheterization procedures every year. We treat children with the most complex heart, blood vessel, and valve conditions. We have one of the highest success rates for cardiac catheterization procedures. Learn more about Cardiac Catheterization.


Our pediatric electrophysiologists perform ablations and other procedures to correct abnormal heart rhythms, with a success rate close to 98 percent. Learn more about Cardiac Electrophysiology.


The pediatric heart experts at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., provide advanced care for unborn babies, children and young adults with heart conditions.

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