Ablation therapy is a 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 a small amount of heart tissue that's causing irregular heartbeats or to treat tumors in the lung, breast, thyroid, liver or other areas of the body.

Healthcare providers that perform ablation therapy may include doctors trained in imaging, called radiologists, heart specialists called cardiologists, and cancer treatment specialists called oncologists.

Doctors 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 damaged or destroyed with various techniques, including heat (radiofrequency ablation), extreme cold (cryoablation), lasers or chemicals.

Ablation therapy is called a minimally invasive procedure because it does not require open surgery with large cuts through the skin and other tissues to remove the abnormal tissue.


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 to spare healthy tissue and lower the risks of surgery. Ablation therapy is often used instead of open surgery to treat thyroid nodules or tumors in the breast.

Compared with open surgery, the benefits of ablation therapy may include a shorter hospital stay and a faster recovery. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of ablation therapy and whether it's an appropriate treatment option for you.

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April 12, 2024
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