What is Ablation Therapy?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 08 January 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Ablation therapy is a procedure used to remove, reduce, destroy, or impede the function of bodily tissues in order to treat certain conditions. This type of procedure is used to treat cardiac arrhythmias, medical conditions that affect the uterine lining, and even some types of cancer. Ablation therapy may be performed surgically or non-surgically.

When a person has an abnormal heart rhythm, he is said to have an arrhythmia. One type of surgical ablation used for treating arrhythmias is an open-heart procedure. When it is performed, a surgeon cuts into the patient’s heart, using small incisions. This interferes with abnormal electrical impulses that are stopping the heart from beating as it should. Scar tissue forms when the incisions heal, creating permanent roadblocks for the abnormal impulses.

One type of non-surgical ablation therapy technique involves the use of radio frequency energy. To perform this type of procedure, a doctor inserts a thin tube called a catheter into his patient’s heart. Once it's in place, he uses a machine to send energy to the heart. The energy from the machine is used to destroy tissue that is interfering with normal heart rhythms.


Sometimes, ablation therapy is used to treat problems a woman is having with her reproductive organs. For example, this treatment may be used to destroy the lining of the uterus if a woman is struggling with excessive menstrual bleeding. To perform this procedure, a doctor uses a special instrument called a hysteroscope, a small device resembling a telescope, to see his patient’s uterine lining. He then uses a laser or radio frequency energy transmitted through a catheter to destroy the lining of the uterus.

In some cases, freezing temperatures may be used for ablation therapy. When a doctor performs cryoablation therapy, he inserts a fine probe into the uterus and cools the tip of it to temperatures below -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius). The uterine lining tissue is destroyed as the probe touches it.

Ablation therapy may even be used as a minimally invasive treatment for liver cancer. To remove liver tumors using radio frequency ablation, a doctor may insert a needle electrode into his patient’s body where the tumor is located. He then sends electrical currents into the tumor, which heats it and kills the cancerous cells. Healthy liver tissue is able to withstand the heat, so the procedure only destroys the tumor and a small amount of normal cells that surround it.



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