Radiofrequency ablation uses energy to heat and destroy an area of tissue.
This procedure is used to destroy abnormal tissue that may be causing health problems. It may be used to treat:
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will go over some problems that could happen such as:
Things that may increase the risk of problems are:
The care team may meet with you to talk about:
Local anesthesia will be used—the area will be numbed.
If this is done as part of another surgery, you may have:
The exact steps will depend on where the tissue is located. A probe is applied to the area. Or the probe may be passed through a small tube to the area. Imaging such as a CT scan, ultrasound, or MRI scan will help guide the doctor to the area.
A small amount of electricity is passed through the tube. This heats and destroys the tissue. The probe may also be used to destroy other areas of tissue.
About 10 to 60 minutes
Pain after the procedure depends on the location and amount of tissue. Medicine and home care help
Some may leave the hospital on the same day. Others will need to stay overnight so the doctor can check them.
Most return to normal activities within a few days.
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
Radiology Info—The Radiological Society of North America
BC Cancer Agency
Canadian Cancer Society
Ablation therapy for atrial fibrillation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/atrial-fibrillation . Accessed July 20, 2021.
Cardiac procedures and surgeries. American Heart Association website. Available at https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/treatment-of-a-heart-attack/cardiac-procedures-and-surgeries#.Wh3RRlWnFxA. Accessed July 20, 2021.
Radiofrequency ablation background. National Institutes of Health website. Available at https://www.cc.nih.gov/drd/rfa/background.html. Accessed July 20, 2021.
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)/Microwave ablation (MWA) of lung tumors. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info/rfalung . Accessed July 20, 2021.
Reccia I, Kumar J, Habib N, Sodergren M. The use of radiofrequency ablation in pancreatic cancer in the midst of the dawn of immuno-oncology. Med Oncol. 2018;35(12):151.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC Last Updated: 7/20/2021