Radiofrequency ablation

Radiofrequency ablation is a medical procedure that uses a high frequency alternating current produced by a radiofrequency generator oscillating in a closed loop circuit. This high frequency current causes heating to over 60 °C which leads to protein denaturation and tissue damage.

Applications

  • tumour ablation: established for the local destruction of liver, lung and bone tumours e.g. osteoid osteoma
  • cardiac arrhythmia: used in the treatment of abnormally discharging focus within the heart
  • Ablation neurotomy and pain management for specific plexus of nerves or morton neuroma
  • varicose veins: alternative to sclerotherapy as the produced heat causes closure of the affected vein

Complications

  • Thermal injuries to the adjacent structures including the diaphragm, colon, gall bladder, bile ducts which may result in perforation, leakage of secretions and stricture formation
  • Hemorrhage: small vessels are more liable to hemorrhage more than large vessels which are rather protected by "heat sink" effect of flowing blood
  • infection is relatively low risk of RFA except if biliary-enteric fistula developed
  • Tumor seeding along the needle tract
  • Post-ablation syndrome: flu like symptoms including low grade fever, chills, nausea, pain and malaise. It is a self limited condition started usually 3 days after ablation
  • Dysfunction of cardiac pacemaker and defibrillators because of the use of radiofrequency waves
  •  Pneumothorax and pleural effusion

Ultrasound - procedures/interventions
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Article Information

rID: 39926
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • RF ablation
  • RFA

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