Overview

Ablation therapy is a type of minimally invasive procedure doctors use to destroy abnormal tissue that occurs with many conditions. For example, a doctor might use an ablation procedure to treat a small kidney tumor or to destroy (ablate) a small amount of heart tissue that's causing abnormal heart rhythms.

Doctors trained in imaging (radiologists), heart specialists (cardiologists) and other specialists perform ablation therapy. They may use probes inserted through the skin, flexible tubes (catheters) inserted through an artery or energy beams. Mapping and imaging techniques are used to guide the ablation. The abnormal tissue is injured or destroyed with heat (radiofrequency ablation), extreme cold (cryoablation), lasers or a chemical.

Mayo Clinic's approach

Why it's done

Ablation therapy for some heart problems is used to reduce signs and symptoms and improve quality of life. Other types of ablation therapy are used instead of open surgery in order to spare healthy tissue and lower the risks of surgery. You may have a shorter hospital stay and a faster recovery after ablation therapy 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.