Radiofrequency Ablation, also known as RFA, is an endoscopic procedure that uses specialized devices called a Radiofrequency Energy Generator to destroy diseased tissue by exposing it to heat. Arlington Gastroenterology Services specializes in providing Radiofrequency Ablation services to patients in Arlington and throughout the Dallas / Forth Worth area.
Radiofrequency Ablation is used to treat a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, which occurs when the esophagus is damaged by stomach acid, causing the lining of the esophagus to change into tissue similar to the lining of the stomach. Since Radiofrequency Ablation was introduced for the treatment of Barrett’s esophagus in 2005, dozens of clinical studies have proven the safety and efficacy of RFA.
How does the RFA Procedure Work?
Radiofrequency Ablation is an outpatient procedure that is performed by a gastroenterologist. During the procedure, the patient will be sedated or anesthetized. An electrode mounted on a balloon catheter or endoscope, and is then used to heat diseased and damaged esophageal lining. Over a period of about 30 minutes, the heat from the electrode leads to ablation of the tissue, which later sloughs off over roughly a two to three day timespan after the procedure is complete. With the damaged tissue gone, the esophagus can heal and replace the linning with normal tissue.
How Can I Prepare for Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment?
If you are scheduled to undergo RFA treatment, you will usually be instructed not to eat or drink anything after midnight the day before the procedure.
Once the RFA treatment is complete, you will generally be prescribed pain medication and an oral numbing solution, which you can use for roughly five to seven days after the procedure. Usually you will be able to go back to work the day after the RFA procedure, although you may be instructed to follow a restricted or modified diet.
Over the long term, patients treated with RFA will also be prescribed antacids to help new healthy esophageal tissue to develop. Additionally, patients will have to continue to watch that Barrett’s mucosa does not return.
Overall, the RFA treatment is a very safe procedure. About one-fifth of patients will have some chest pain after the procedure, and about 5% of patients may experience narrowing of the esophagus after the procedure. If this occurs, these patients will need to also undergo a procedure to stretch the esophagus.