Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)

May 4, 2022

What is Radiofrequency Ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation is a pain-management, and treatment technique. The procedure uses an electrical current from a radio wave focused on a small area of tissue, decreasing the pain signals from that nerve, and destroying bad tissue in the area.

Radiofrequency ablation is commonly used in the GI setting to treat cases of Barrett’s esophagus. This is typically done during an upper endoscopy using a balloon, such as with the BarrX system, or a rectangular pad attached to the end of the endoscope. The electrodes on the device deliver electrical currents to the affected tissue, destroying and removing it.

Who Needs Radiofrequency Ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is most commonly used to treat Barrett’s esophagus and gastric antral vascular ectasia (GAVE)- a condition of abnormal blood vessels in the stomach that causes anemia.

What is BarrX?

Barrx is a new treatment option for Barrett’s Esophagus, a condition that can often result from chronic heartburn or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, commonly referred to as GERD.

It is performed by a physician in conjunction with an upper endoscopy; it does not require any incisions or surgery. After the scope is inside the esophagus radiofrequency energy (heat) is emitted to kill diseased cells. Once the diseased cells have been removed, new and healthy cells can replace them.

These abnormal cells in the esophagus can become cancerous. This procedure of ablating or removing cells can prevent the tissue from developing into a cancer.

What Are The Advantages Of BarrX?

BarrX is a minimally invasive, non-surgical option to treat and repair damage to the esophagus. Another unique advantage is that the BarrX procedure is performed during an upper endoscopy so no additional prep or adjustments need to be made by the patient.

For the three million Americans that suffer from Barrett’s esophagus, the BarrX procedure is a very low-risk and effective way to repair a damaged esophagus.

Is Radiofrequency Ablation Painful?

The procedure itself is not usually painful, as the patient is sedated during the procedure. It is, however, common for the patient to feel chest pain and discomfort swallowing for no longer than seven days after the procedure. It is important to follow the pain regimen that your doctor provides to help manage any pain after the procedure.

Is Radiofrequency Ablation Safe?

As with any medical procedure, there are always risks involved. With radiofrequency ablation (RFA) there are very few associated risks. Some risks could include infection, reaction to anesthesia, and bleeding. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have with the procedure and your specific risks.

What Should I Do to Prepare for my Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment?

You will need to “clean out” your stomach and bowels prior to the procedure. Your doctor will give you a special laxative to drink the day before the exam, and you will likely need to fast. Be sure to discuss specific instructions for preparation before your RFA procedure.