A cardioversion is a procedure that attempts to restore normal cardiac rhythm. It is used in patients that have trouble with their heart beating outside of the normal sinus rhythm. A cardioversion can be accomplished by using an external cardioverter-defibrillator.
External cardioversion uses a device called a defibrillator. When the defibrillator is placed on your chest, it delivers a shock to your heart, this shock is intended to return your heart to a normal rhythm. It is like hitting a reset button on your heart.
During the procedure, staff will monitor your vital signs closely. A nurse will start an IV and an anesthesiologist or CRNA will sedate you with IV medication. The procedure only lasts a few minutes. You will probably not remember the test due to the sedation. The doctor will use the defibrillator to deliver a shock to your heart to restore it to its normal rhythm. After the procedure you may have some chest tenderness or bruising. Some patients may need to continue anti-arrhythmia drugs after the cardioversion procedure. This is an outpatient procedure but performed in the hospital setting. You will be there for several hours.