Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) is a medical procedure where part of the electrical conduction system of the heart, tumor, or other dysfunctional tissue is ablated using the heat generated from the high-frequency alternating current to treat a medical disorder.
RFA is performed to treat tumors in the lung, liver, kidney, bone, and (rarely) in other body organs. Once the diagnosis of the tumor is confirmed, a needle-like RFA probe is placed inside the tumor. The suitability of a patient to receive RFA is decided by doctors based on multiple factors. RFA can usually be administered as an out-patient procedure, that may at times require a brief hospital stay. RFA may be combined with locally-delivered chemotherapy to treat hepatocellular carcinoma (primary liver cancer). The low-level heat (hyperthermia) created by the RFA probe causes heat-sensitive liposomes to release concentrated levels of chemotherapy in the margins around the ablated tissue, which is a method commonly used to treat Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) Radiofrequency ablation is also used in pancreatic cancer and bile duct cancer.
Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure used in the treatment of varicose veins. It is an alternative to the traditional stripping operation.
RFA can be used to help patients with chronic (long-lasting) low-back and neck pain and pain related to the degeneration of joints from arthritis.
How Long Does Pain Relief From Radiofrequency Ablation Last?
The degree of pain relief varies, depending on the cause and location of the pain. Pain relief from RFA can last from six to 12 months and in some cases, relief can last for years. More than 70% of patients treated with RFA experience pain relief.
As with any medical procedure, RFA is not appropriate for everyone. For example, radiofrequency ablation is not recommended in people who have active infections or bleeding problems. Your doctor can tell you if you should not have RFA.
If radiofrequency ablation is recommended, a doctor will explain the procedure in detail, including possible complications and side effects. An intravenous (IV) line may be placed in a vein in your arm before the procedure and a local anesthetic and mild sedative may be used to reduce any discomfort during RFA. You may be awake during the process to aid in properly assessing the procedure.