Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a relatively new, minimally-invasive procedure that doctors use to address various medical conditions. The physician inserts a thin needle or a probe through the skin into the targeted tissue during the process. Radio waves are delivered via an electric current to create heat that destroys abnormal cells or tissues. The entire process takes about an hour and can happen in an outpatient setting.
The radio wave energy generated by RFA is directed towards specific areas of damaged tissue while leaving healthy tissue unharmed. It creates heat at temperatures up to 120°C (250°F). This heat causes cell death and the shrinking nerve fibers that generate pain signals. Blood vessels form a seal as the affected area cools down, and scar tissue replaces the ablated area.
What Conditions Can RFA Treat?
Doctors use radiofrequency ablation to treat numerous health conditions. They include:
- Chronic pain
- Cardiac arrhythmias or abnormal heartbeats
- Nerve damage in the back, neck, or limbs
RFA can also help reduce inflammation and restore normal function to affected joints. Your doctor should assess your case, medical history, and preferences to help you determine whether you’re a good candidate for an RFA procedure.
Benefits of RFA
The benefits of RFA include reduced risk of surgical complications, shorter recovery times, fewer post-procedure side effects compared to other treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, less pain during treatment than other procedures such as open surgery, no need for anesthesia or hospitalization, and cost savings due to shorter hospital stays. In addition, RFA is a safe alternative to surgery and can treat multiple conditions simultaneously.
Radiofrequency ablation is an effective treatment option for pain relief for many medical conditions. Doctors can use it as a stand-alone procedure or in combination with other treatments. Talk to your doctor about whether this treatment is suitable for you.