Radiofrequency ablation also called fulguration is a medical procedure in which part of the electrical conduction system of the heart, tumor or other dysfunctional tissue is ablated by using the heat generated from medium frequency alternating current, in the range of 350 to 500 kHz.
Some facts about Radiofrequency ablation:
- Generally, RFA is conducted in the outpatient setting, using either local anesthetics or conscious sedation anesthesia
- It is called radiofrequency catheter ablation when it is delivered through catheter.
- Radio frequency current can often be used without the need for general anesthesia as it does not directly stimulate nerves or heart muscle.
- It is very specific for treating the desired tissue without significant collateral damage.
- Because of this Radiofrequency ablation is gaining in popularity as an alternative for eligible patients who do not want to undergo surgery.
- An interventional pain specialist such as an anesthesiologist, otolaryngologists, interventional radiologist, a gastrointestinal or surgical endoscopist, or a cardiac electrophysiologist, a subspecialty of cardiologists are involved in RFA procedures that are performed under image guidance such as X-ray screening, CT scan or ultrasound.
- Tumors in the lung, liver, kidney, and bone, as well as other body organs can be treated with RFA.
Preparing for Radiofrequency Ablation:
- Patients will be given instructions about how to prepare for radiofrequency ablation.
- Eating or drinking anything should be avoided for at least six hours before the ablation.
- You can take your medicines with a small amount of water.
- You should not take insulin or diabetes pills until after the procedure if you have diabetes.
- Stop taking aspirin or medicines that contain aspirin for at least 11 days before the procedure as it can cause bleeding or slow the clotting process.
- Do not wear any jewelry during the procedure.
Procedure for Radiofrequency ablation in Treating Tumor:
- A needle-like RFA probe is placed inside the tumor once the diagnosis of tumor is confirmed.
- The temperature within tumor tissue is increased by the radiofrequency waves passing through the probe, which results in destruction of the tumor.
- RFA can be used with small tumors, whether primary tumors or metastasis.
- Although RFA may at times require a brief hospital stay, it is usually administered as an outpatient procedure.
- Hepatocellular carcinoma which is primary liver cancer can be treated by combining RFA with locally delivered chemotherapy.
- The low-level heat (hyperthermia) created by the RFA probe is used to trigger release of concentrated chemotherapeutic drugs from heat-sensitive liposomes in the margins around the ablated tissue as a treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
- Radiofrequency ablation is also used in bile duct cancer and pancreatic cancer.
- Benign bone tumors, most notably osteoid osteomas can be treated with RFA.
- Although, initial success rates with RFA are high, symptom recurrence after RFA treatment has been reported, and the recurrence rate is similar to that of surgical treatment.
- RFA is also used in the palliative treatment of painful metastatic bone disease in people who are not eligible or do not respond to traditional therapies such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, palliative surgery, bisphosphonates or analgesic medications.