Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a surgical procedure in which heat generated from medium frequency alternating current is used to ablate a tumour, a part of the electrical conduction system of the heart, or any other dysfunctional areas. The ablation therapy requires local anaesthesia and is done in an outpatient setting.
RFA is a popular treatment for the correction of any abnormality in the electrical system of the heart, which is confirmed during electrophysiology studies (EPS). During this test, the electrophysiology of heart is studied and any abnormalities are noted. The procedure used to correct the identified abnormalities associated with electrophysiology of heart is known as the cardiac ablation procedure.
The steps in the RFA procedure depends of the type of disorder that needs to be treated or the part of the body targeted.
Abnormal electrophysiology of heart that cause cardiac arrhythmias can be destroyed by radiofrequency energy. During cardiac ablation procedure, radiofrequency energy is used in atrial flutter, supraventricular tachycardia, multifocal atrial tachycardia and ventricular arrhythmia. The electrode at the tip of a catheter is placed into the heart through a vein. This type of catheter is called ablator. The physician first maps the specific area that is abnormal before starting the cardiac ablation surgery.
RFA is used to treat tumours of kidneys, liver, lung and bone. After tumour diagnosis is confirmed, a needle-like RFA probe is placed inside the tumour. Through this probe, the radiofrequency wave passes and increases the temperature of the tumour tissue. The increase in temperature destroys the tumour during ablation procedure.
Radiofrequency ablation therapy can also be used in dermatological conditions by using different forms of alternating current. The radiofrequency ablation can also be used to treat skin lesions with few side effects and complications.
Radiofrequency ablation is used in the treatment of varicose veins. Under ultrasound control, a radiofrequency catheter is inserted into the abnormal vein and the vessel treated with radio-energy and closes the involved vein. Radiofrequency ablation is used to treat the saphenous vein, the saphenous vein, and the perforator veins.
Immediately after cardiac ablation procedure, the patient is shifted to a recovery room for a few hours. There may be some level of numbness or weakness for a while, which goes away in a few hours. You will be asked to lie quietly for at least three to four hours.
During the first 48 hours, you may feel sore because of excessive lying down or experience a heart-beat which is strange. Bruises may appear at the site of catheter insertion, however, it goes away within two days. You will be instructed to avoid vigorous activities and weight lifting and advised to remove any bandages at bed time. You must avoid the catheter insertion site from getting wet.
You will be given an appointment after RFA to have a repeat scan. The scan helps to know how well the treatment is done. You must avoid bending of squatting and watch out for swelling or bleeding at the site of catheter insertion. It is important to take short walks every day. You can return back to work after 48 hours or whenever your doctor gives a go ahead.
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