What is Radiofrequency Ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation, or RFA, is a minimally invasive technique that shrinks the size of tumors, nodules or other growths in the body. RFA is used to treat a range of conditions, including benign and malignant tumors, chronic venous insufficiency in the legs, as well as chronic back and neck pain.

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how does it work?

The procedure is similar to a needle biopsy, and involves inserting a needle-like probe into the body. Radiofrequency waves are sent out from the probe into the surrounding tissue, which causes the nearby cells to die. As these cells die, the immune system removes them, which causes an internal reaction and generally results in shrinkage of the nodule.

To place the tip of the probe in the correct location, the health care provider uses ultrasound or other imaging technique.

In some types of chronic pain, radiofrequency ablation can disable nerve fibers that are carrying the pain signal through the spinal cord to the brain. In the right patients, about 70% of RFA procedures provide pain relief that lasts for a year or more. The technique may be useful for some people living with chronic arthritis or degenerative back and neck problems. 

Aftermath and side effects

Following RFA, most patients feel normal within 24 hours. Some may notice some slight bruising or soreness, which responds well to over-the-counter pain medicines.

Over time, more cells of the nodule die, and the nodule shrinks in size. The entire nodule might not be removed with one treatment, but as the nodule shrinks, symptoms are likely to improve.

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