Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Radiofrequency ablation uses heat to destroy abnormal tissue.
Reasons for Procedure
Radiofrequency ablation is used to treat:
Possible Complications TOP
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have ablation, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Description of the Procedure
An IV will be placed to give you fluids and medicine to help you relax. Your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure will be monitored. The area where the probe will be inserted is numbed.
The probe will be inserted into or directly up against the abnormal tissue. CT scan, ultrasound, or MRI scan images may be used to help guide the probe. In some cases, once the probe is inserted, a number of electrodes will be placed into the area. This will let the doctor treat a larger area of tissue.
A small amount of heat will be introduced through the probe. The heat will destroy the abnormal tissue. The probe may be repositioned to destroy other areas of tissue.
Immediately After Procedure
You will be monitored for 2-3 hours after the procedure.
How Long Will It Take?
About 10-60 minutes
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will prevent pain during the surgery. You will be given medicine to help prevent most pain or discomfort.
Average Hospital Stay
It may be possible to leave the hospital on the same day of the procedure. You may need to stay overnight for your doctor to monitor you. Speak to your doctor to see if this is an option in your case.
Do not drive within the first 24 hours after the procedure. You may be asked to avoid strenuous activities. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
Call Your Doctor TOP
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American College of Radiology
The Radiological Society of North America
BC Cancer Agency
Canadian Cancer Society
Gazelle GS, Goldberg SN, et al. Tumor ablation with radio-frequency energy. Radiology. 2000;217(3):633.
Interventional radiology. RadiologyInfo website. Available at http://www.radiolo.... Accessed August 28, 2006.
Radiofrequency ablation. American Heart Association website. Available at
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Accessed August 28, 2006.
Radiofrequency ablation. National Institutes of Health website. Available at http://www.cc.nih.gov/drd/rfa/background.html. Accessed August 28, 2006.
Last reviewed December 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Last Updated: 1/14/2014