Ablation therapy is a type of minimally invasive procedure used to remove abnormal tissue that occurs with some heart conditions, blood vessel (vascular) conditions, reproductive conditions and cancer.

In ablation therapy, doctors may perform procedures using probes inserted through the skin, flexible tubes (catheters) inserted through an artery or energy beams to reach the area being treated. Doctors usually use imaging techniques to guide ablation. Doctors then injure or destroy (ablate) abnormal tissue using heat (radiofrequency ablation), extreme cold (cryoablation), lasers or a chemical.

Ablation therapy may spare healthy tissue and lower the risks and discomforts of open surgery. You may have a shorter hospital stay and a faster recovery after ablation therapy compared to open surgery. Your doctor will discuss the benefits and risks of ablation therapy and determine whether ablation is an appropriate treatment option for you.

Mayo Clinic doctors use several types of ablation therapy to treat many conditions. Your doctor will evaluate you to determine whether ablation may be appropriate for you. Doctors trained in imaging (radiologists) and others perform ablation therapy.

Mayo Clinic doctors perform many types of ablation therapy, including:

  • Cardiac ablation. Cardiac ablation treats several heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias), including atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, tachycardia, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome and ventricular tachycardia. In cardiac ablation, doctors insert long, flexible tubes (catheters) in a blood vessel in your arm, groin or neck and thread them through your blood vessels to your heart. Doctors then apply heat (radiofrequency energy) or extreme cold (cryoablation) to destroy abnormal heart tissue causing your heart rhythm disorder.
  • Cryoablation. Doctors use extreme cold (cryoablation) to freeze and destroy cancer cells and other abnormal cells. Cryoablation may be used to treat kidney tumors, liver cancer, prostate cancer, some arrhythmias and other conditions. Doctors also may use cryoablation to help relieve bone tumor pain.
  • Endometrial ablation. Endometrial ablation reduces heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia). Doctors use heat, cold, laser or other methods to destroy the tissue that lines the uterus (endometrium).
  • Endovenous thermal ablation. Endovenous thermal ablation may be used to treat varicose veins. In endovenous thermal ablation, doctors use heat or lasers to shrink and close varicose veins.
  • Focused ultrasound ablation. Focused ultrasound ablation treats uterine fibroids. During magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), doctors guide ultrasound beams to the fibroids to heat and destroy fibroids in small sections.
  • Laser ablation. Laser ablation, including laser photoselective vaporization and holmium laser ablation of the prostate, may treat prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia) and other prostate conditions. In this procedure, your doctor inserts a thin tube with an optical system (cystoscope) into your urethra. Your doctor then delivers laser energy to the affected area to destroy the tissue.
  • Radiofrequency ablation. Doctors use heat (radiofrequency ablation) to destroy (ablate) cancer cells or other abnormal cells. Radiofrequency ablation may treat kidney tumors, liver cancer, lung cancer, islet cell cancer, adrenal cancer, Barrett's esophagus, some types of arrhythmias, prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia) and other conditions. Doctors also may use radiofrequency ablation to help relieve bone tumor pain and arthritis-related back pain.
  • Septal ablation. Doctors may use septal ablation to treat abnormal thickening of your heart muscle (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). In septal ablation, your doctor injects an alcohol solution into an artery supplying the thickened heart tissue to destroy part of the heart tissue.

Read more about cardiac ablation, cryotherapy for prostate cancer, endometrial ablation, focused ultrasound for uterine fibroids, prostate laser surgery and transurethral needle ablation (TUNA).

  • Experience. Mayo Clinic doctors have experience conducting many types of ablation therapy.
  • Team approach. Mayo Clinic doctors trained in many areas conduct ablation therapy. Doctors work together with staff in many areas to offer coordinated care.
  • Technology. Mayo Clinic doctors use advanced technology during ablation therapy.
  • Research. Mayo Clinic doctors study new techniques and uses for ablation therapy and conduct clinical trials.

At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care — and trusted answers — like they've never experienced.

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See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.

Mayo Clinic doctors develop and test many types of ablation therapy to treat a wide range of conditions.

Mayo Clinic publications

See a list of publications by Mayo Clinic doctors on ablation therapy on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

Nov. 26, 2012