Alcohol Septal Ablation for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy | MedStar Health

Minimally invasive treatment for an enlarged heart

This is a procedure our doctors use to treat hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which occurs when the heart muscle is abnormally thick.

The lower two chambers of your heart, the ventricles, are separated by a thin wall of tissue called a septum. If your heart muscle is too thick, the septum can bulge and partially block the flow of blood through the heart.

Alcohol septal ablation uses alcohol, which is toxic to heart muscle, to shrink the abnormal tissue and improve blood flow throughout the body. It’s a less-invasive alternative to septal myectomy

Our Interventional Cardiology Program is home to world-renowned authorities in cardiac catheterization procedures like alcohol septal ablation.

What to expect from alcohol septal ablation

You’ll receive medication to help you relax, but you’ll be awake during the procedure. After giving you anesthetic to numb the area, your doctor will make a small incision in the skin of your wrist or groin and insert a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into a blood vessel there.

The doctor will thread the catheter to the septum between your ventricles, where they’ll release a small amount of alcohol. You may feel some pain or discomfort when the alcohol is released.

The procedure takes about 1 or 2 hours to complete. You also may have a temporary pacemaker for a few days following the procedure.

Afterward, we’ll take you to a recovery room, where you’ll need to stay for a few hours. You’ll likely need to stay in the hospital for a few days after the procedure. Your doctor will discuss when it will be safe for you to resume your normal activities.


Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a genetic condition that causes heart muscle tissue to become abnormally thick.


Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Holter Monitors

A Holter monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but whereas an electrocardiogram records over a few minutes, a Holter monitor records over the course of a day or two.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets, and computer technology to create images of your heart and blood vessels.

Stress Tests

Stress tests are used to assess how your heart works during physical activity. There are several types of stress tests, including treadmill or bike stress tests, nuclear stress tests, stress echocardiograms, and chemically induced stress tests.

Our locations

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MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

201 E. University Pkwy.
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

Additional information

Interventional Cardiology Program

We have one of the highest volume heart catheterization programs in the mid-Atlantic region, averaging nearly 12,000 procedures annually.

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