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What is Radiofrequency Ablation? 

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) has emerged as an effective minimally invasive procedure for treating various types of chronic pain conditions. But how does it work and what can you expect if your doctor recommends RFA? This complete guide answers the most common questions patients have about radiofrequency ablation.

What is Radiofrequency Ablation and How Does It Work?

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive procedure that uses high-frequency energy to destroy abnormal tissue, such as tumors, nodules, or other growths in the body. The procedure involves inserting a thin, needle-like probe into the targeted tissue, which delivers a controlled amount of energy to heat and destroy the tissue.

RFA is commonly used to treat a wide range of conditions, including both benign and malignant tumors, such as liver cancer, kidney cancer, and lung cancer. It can also be used to treat chronic venous insufficiency in the legs, a condition that causes swelling, pain, and discomfort, as well as chronic back and neck pain.

The procedure has several benefits over traditional surgery, including a shorter recovery time, lower risk of complications, and a reduced need for anesthesia. Additionally, RFA can be performed on an outpatient basis, which means that patients can return home the same day as the procedure.

RFA is a safe and effective treatment option for patients with tumors or other growths in the body. It offers a minimally invasive alternative to surgery that can help reduce pain, improve quality of life, and potentially even save lives.

How is Radiofrequency Ablation Performed?

The RFA procedure takes between 30-90 minutes depending on the targeted location and number of lesions to be created. Here’s what you can expect:

  • A local anesthetic was given to numb the insertion site
  • Electrode needle inserted under image guidance (fluoroscopy or CT)
  • A small area of nerve is heated for 60-90 seconds to damage it
  • Multiple lesions were created by repositioning the needle
  • A bandage applied after needle removal

Patients are awake during the procedure and can communicate any discomfort to the doctor. You may feel some buzzing sensations when the probe delivers the radiofrequency energy.

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Recovering from Radiofrequency Ablation

Most patients can go home shortly after the RFA procedure and resume normal activities within a day or two. Follow your doctor’s instructions for care of the insertion site and ask about when you can resume exercise, work, and driving.

Expect some soreness or throbbing at the ablation site which resolves within 1-2 weeks with OTC pain relievers. Pain may temporarily increase as the damaged nerves die off before long-term relief sets in. Maximum pain relief is achieved 2-4 weeks after the procedure.

Cost of Radiofrequency Ablation

The estimated cost of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) for solitary, large, benign thyroid nodules ranges between approximately $5,000 and $10,000.

According to the www.thepricer.org the average cost for radiofrequency ablation ranges from $3,000 to $5,900 per treatment. However, prices can vary significantly based on your geographic location, hospital, and other factors.

According to the cost comparison website MDsave, the national average cost of radiofrequency ablation is $6,052.

The Takeaway

Radiofrequency ablation is an effective and minimally invasive treatment option for many chronic pain conditions. It works by using heat to damage the nerves transmitting pain signals. RFA provides significant pain relief with mild side effects and quick recovery time. For properly selected patients not responding adequately to more conservative measures, radiofrequency ablation can be a game-changing procedure.

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