What Is Radio Frequency Ablation?
Radio frequency ablation is a commonly preformed nonsurgical procedure for the treatment of electrical irregularities of the heart and cancerous tumors. The procedure is characterized by the use of high frequency alternating current, which is applied to the dysfunctional tissue to destroy or ablate it.
Uses in Cardiology
According to the American Heart Association, radio frequency ablation involves the use of an electrode inserted into the heart muscle via a catheter. The electrode is guided to the heart, where it emits small amounts of radio frequency energy to destroy carefully selected heart cells and stop them from conducting impulses that cause rapid and irregular heartbeats.
Uses in Cancer
RF ablation is used to treat tumors of the liver, kidney, lung, bone and other organs. A thin needle guided by computed tomography or ultrasound is inserted through the skin and into the tumor. Electrical energy is sent through the needle to heat and destroy the cancerous tissue.
Radio frequency ablation is the preferred treatment for many types of rapid heartbeats and has a success rate of over 90 percent. RF ablation therapy is relatively new in tumor treatment, but preliminary data for certain types of cancers show promise. The success rate for small kidney tumors is 95 percent, and the five-year survival rate for liver cancer is 40 to 50 percent.
Patients who undergo this treatment have few complications and can resume normal activities within a few days. Most treatments can be performed in approximately 15 minutes and require mild sedation with local anesthesia.
RF ablation is also used to treat varicose veins and sleep disorders and for various forms of pain management.