Radio frequency ablation (RFA) is a medical procedure in which tumor or other dysfunctional tissue connected to the heart is ablated using the heat generated from high Radiofrequency current. The intensity of this electrical current can range from 350-500 kHz.
An important advantage of RF current (over previously used low frequency AC or pulses of DC) is that it does not directly stimulate nerves or heart muscle and therefore may be used without the need for general anesthetic. RFA procedures are performed under image guidance such as X-ray screening, CT scan or ultrasound by an interventional pain specialist like -
- Interventional radiologist
- Gastrointestinal or surgical endoscopist
- Cardiac electrophysiologist
Radiofrequency energy is usually employed to destroy abnormal electrical pathways that are contributing to a cardiac arrhythmia. It is used in recurrent atrial flutter, atrial fibrillation (AF), supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), atrial tachycardia and some types of ventricular arrhythmia. The energy-emitting probe (electrode) is at the tip of a catheter which is placed into the heart, usually through a vein. This catheter is called the ablator.
The practitioner first "maps" an area of the heart to locate the abnormal electrical activity (electrophysiology study) before the culprit tissue is eliminated.