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What is ablation therapy?

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Quick Answer

Mayo Clinic describes ablation therapy as an alternative to open surgery in which abnormal tissues are sought and injured or destroyed. This therapy is less invasive than traditional methods and recovery time is shorter. Imagery is usually used to guide probes, tubes or energy to the destination. Abnormal tissues are destroyed (ablated) with heat, cold, lasers or chemicals.

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Full Answer

Mayo Clinic describes eight different forms of ablation therapy. Cardiac ablation is used to treat heart rhythm disorders. A catheter is inserted into a major blood vessel that leads to the heart, and abnormal heart tissue is treated with heat or extreme cold (cryoablation). Cryoablation is also used to destroy cancer cells in prostate and liver cancers, kidney tumors, or to alleviate bone tumor pain.

Radiofrequency ablation, in contrast, uses heat to destroy cancer cells, states Mayo Clinic. The list of cancers this therapy treats includes liver, lung, islet cell, adrenal and kidney tumors. Endometrial ablation is used to reduce menorrhagia by destroying endometrium tissue. Endovenous thermal ablation is used to shrink and close varicose veins.

Focused ultrasound ablation, says Mayo Clinic, uses ultrasound beams to destroy uterine fibroids with heat. Laser ablation is used to treat prostate issues by inserting a cytoscope into the urethra that then destroys abnormal tissue with laser beams. Finally, septal ablation treats hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is an abnormal thickening of the heart muscle, by an injection of an alcohol solution into the vein that supplies the tissue's blood source.

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