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Radiofrequency Ablation
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Radiofrequency Ablation Overview

Written by FoundHealth.


Radiofrequency ablation uses heat to destroy abnormal tissue.

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

  • Your doctor may order:
  • Blood tests
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) —a test that records the electrical currents passing through the heart muscle
  • Imaging tests like x-rays, ultrasound, or MRI
  • Ask your doctor if you need to avoid eating or drinking before the procedure.


You will most likely be given a sedative to help you relax. Local anesthesia will be used to numb the area. If this is done as part of another surgery, you may have general or spinal anesthesia .

Description of the Procedure

An IV will be placed to give you fluids and medicine to help you relax. Your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure will be monitored. The area where the probe will be inserted is numbed.

The probe will be inserted into or directly up against the abnormal tissue. CT , ultrasound , or MRI images may be used to help guide the probe. In some cases, once the probe is inserted, a number of electrodes will be placed into the area. This will let the doctor treat a larger area of tissue.

A small amount of heat will be introduced through the probe. The heat will destroy the abnormal tissue. The probe may be repositioned to destroy other areas of tissue.

Immediately After Procedure

You will be monitored for 2-3 hours after the procedure.

How Long Will It Take?

About 10-60 minutes

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will prevent pain during the surgery. You will be given medicine to help prevent most pain or discomfort.

Average Hospital Stay

It may be possible to leave the hospital on the same day of the procedure. You may need to stay overnight for your doctor to monitor you. Speak to your doctor to see if this is an option in your case.

Post-procedure Care

Do not drive within the first 24 hours after the procedure. You may be asked to avoid strenuous activities. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions .



American College of Radiology

The Radiological Society of North America


BC Cancer Agency

Canadian Cancer Society


Interventional radiology. RadiologyInfo website. Available at . Accessed August 28, 2006.

Radiofrequency ablation. American Heart Association website. Available at . Accessed August 28, 2006.

Radiofrequency ablation. National Institutes of Health website. Available at . Accessed August 28, 2006.



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