What is Radiofrequency Ablation?

Radiofrequency energy (radio waves) is delivered via a catheter which is covered by a band of radiofrequency electrodes to the affected area to remove diseased tissue while minimizing injury to the deeper, healthy tissue layers. This is called ablation, which means the removal or destruction of abnormal tissue. With ablation (or coagulation) the tissue is heated until it is no longer alive. Various forms of this technique have been used by physicians for almost a century, to treat cancerous and precancerous cells and to control bleeding. Blair Gastroenterology Associates specializes in endoscopic procedures and would be happy to accommodate your need for this type of testing. Please be sure to contact our office or speak to your primary care doctor today about referring you to one of our specialists.

Radiofrequency Ablation Assists in Treating Barrett’s Esophagus

Ablation is commonly used for the treatment of Barrett’s Esophagus. Because esophageal tissue is very thin, this method has been shown to be very effective for removal with ablative energy. Radiofrequency Ablation has been shown to be safe and effective in treating Barrett’s Esophagus and is performed during an endoscopy, while you are sedated, at UPMC Altoona. Larger areas of the esophagus are treated with a balloon-mounted catheter, and an endoscope-mounted catheter is used for the smaller areas. If you have been diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus and would like to speak to one of our physicians about a second option, treatment options, or to set up an office visit, be sure to give us a call at your earliest convenience.

Preparing for Radiofrequency Ablation during your Endoscopy

This procedure does require that your stomach is empty, so you will be asked to not have anything to eat or drink for eight hours prior to coming in. You also may be asked to discontinue the use of some blood thinners a few days prior. The procedure usually takes anywhere from 30-45 minutes to perform, although you should plan to be at UPMC Altoona for approximately three hours. You may have some difficulty in swallowing or some chest pain or discomfort for days after the procedure. The doctor will usually prescribe antacid medications to help heal the esophagus, and these symptoms will normally go away in three or four days. In the three or four weeks following the procedure, healthy tissue will start to replace the diseased tissue that has been ablated, or removed.