Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure used in several medical procedures. The outpatient procedure can shrink benign and malignant tumors, address chronic venous insufficiency, and manage chronic pain.
How Does Radiofrequency Ablation Work?
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses heat to destroy tissue. Radio waves create a current that heats a small portion of nerve tissue, destroying that area of the nerve so that it can no longer send pain signals to the brain.
In patients with tumors and nodules, RFA targets the abnormal cells and destroys them. Then, the body’s immune system naturally removes them, potentially shrinking tumors and nodules. In addition, patients using RFA for chronic venous insufficiency use the treatment to seal off diseased veins that cause insufficient blood flow and subsequent blood pooling.
How Does Radiofrequency Ablation Treat Chronic Pain?
RFA is often used to target pain from the facet joints, which are the connections between the bones in the spine. Facet joint pain may contribute to chronic pain conditions in the neck and lower back and the sacroiliac joints that link the pelvis and lower spine.
Each facet joint connects with two branch nerves that carry signals to the brain and spine, including pain signals. In addition to joint pain, RFA can be used to treat peripheral nerve pain and pain stemming from cancer, such as stomach pain caused by pancreatic cancer or pelvic pain due to ovarian cancer.
What to Expect from Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment
RFA procedures are minimally invasive, with most patients only requiring mild sedation, if any. However, when patients need a sedative to relax, they often stay conscious to describe how they feel during the nerve stimulation and lesioning.
Patients lie on their stomachs for the procedure, and a physician applies a local anesthetic. Then, using X-ray guidance, the doctor directs the radiofrequency needle to the targeted nerves and confirms the position using an electrical current, which the patient will feel and discuss with the physician.
After pinpointing the exact position, the physician applies more anesthetic, and the procedure continues, creating a heat lesion on the nerve through ablation. The process repeats for any other nerves requiring treatment.
The entire procedure can take one to two hours, depending on the number of treatments performed. Patients should have someone drive them home after the procedure.
Radiofrequency ablation can offer patients a method to help them manage pain, avoid long-term use of pain medications, delay or avoid surgery, and improve function in the targeted areas.
This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions. Click here to learn more.