Ablation therapy is a type of minimally invasive procedure doctors use to destroy abnormal tissue that can be present in many conditions. For example, a doctor might use an ablation procedure to destroy (ablate) a small amount of heart tissue that's causing abnormal heart rhythms or to treat tumors in the lung, breast, thyroid, liver or other areas of the body.
Doctors trained in imaging (radiologists), heart specialists (cardiologists) and other specialists perform ablation therapy. They may use probes inserted through the skin, flexible tubes inserted through an artery (catheters) or energy beams. Imaging techniques are used to guide the ablation. The abnormal tissue can be impaired or destroyed with various techniques, including heat (radiofrequency ablation), extreme cold (cryoablation), lasers or chemicals.
Why it's done
Ablation therapy has many different uses. For people with heart problems, such as atrial fibrillation, ablation is used to correct the disorder and improve quality of life. Some types of ablation therapy are used instead of open surgery in order to spare healthy tissue and lower the risks of surgery, such as in the case of eliminating thyroid nodules or tumors in the breast.
The benefits of ablation therapy may include a shorter hospital stay and a faster recovery compared with open surgery. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of ablation therapy and whether it's an appropriate treatment option for you.
Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this disease.
Ablation therapy care at Mayo Clinic
March 11, 2020
- Cronin EM, et al. 2019 HRS/EHRA/APHRS/LAHRS expert consensus statement on catheter ablation of ventricular arrhythmias. Journal of Interventional Cardiac Electrophysiology. 2020; doi:10.1007/s10840-019-00663-3.
- Feldkamp J, et al. Non-surgical and non-radioiodine techniques for ablation of benign thyroid nodules: Consensus statement and recommendation. Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology and Diabetes. 2020; doi:10.1055/a-1075-2025.
- Cameron AM, et al. Ablation of colorectal liver metastases. In: Current Surgical Therapy. 13th ed. Elsevier; 2020. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 19, 2020.
- Bonow RO, et al., eds. Therapy for cardiac arrhythmias. In: Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Saunders Elsevier; 2019. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 19, 2020.
- Radiofrequency ablation information sheet. American College of Radiology. https://www.acrin.org/PATIENTS/ABOUTIMAGINGEXAMSANDAGENTS/ABOUTABLATIONTHERAPY.aspx. Accessed Feb. 19, 2020.