Alcohol Septal Ablation

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

The term hypertrophic cardiomyopathy describes conditions in which the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart) thicken and become stiff.

Alcohol septal ablation is a procedure used to treat hypertrophic myopathy – a thickening and stiffness of the septum, which divides the walls of the heart. This condition obstructs proper blood flow in and out of the heart and causes symptoms from chest pain to heart failure.

UC San Diego heart specialists use alcohol septal ablation as an effective, nonsurgical alternative to conventional surgical treatment of hypertrophic myopathy, or when medications have not proven effective.

How is Alcohol Septal Ablation Performed?

Alcohol septal ablation is performed by an interventional cardiologist in the cardiac catheterization laboratory.

  • Patients are lightly sedated before the procedure.
  • A thin catheter tube inserted into a groin artery is used to access the affected portion of the heart.
  • A small amount of pure alcohol is inserted into the septum, which destroys some of the thickened heart muscle. It is replaced with thin scar tissue, which improves blood flow in and out of the heart.

More than 90 percent of UC San Diego Health System patients receiving alcohol septal ablation have shown significant improvement almost immediately, followed by continued improvement over the next year or two.