Radiofrequency treatment, also called radiofrequency ablation, is performed using needles and the guidance of an x-ray machine: physicians insert tiny needles into the areas of pain or where cancer exists, which then transmit radio waves to promote healing in cases of back injury, and to kill cancer cells in cancer patients. Radiofrequency ablation is performed using a local anesthetic and mild sedative for arthritis relief in the spine, states WebMD. Patients remain awake during the procedure, and help doctors by identifying precise areas of pain, where doctors then insert the needle to provide relief.
In instances of arthritis and cancer treatment, medical professionals consider radiofrequency treatment a minimally-invasive procedure. It is less invasive than surgery, and has a much shorter recovery time. In cancer patients, physicians recommend radiofrequency treatment when surgery is not an option, or when precancerous cells must be destroyed.
Among cancer patients, doctors use radiofrequency ablation to treat bone, liver, prostate, kidney and lung cancers, says Mayo Clinic. They use x-ray images of cancerous cells and tumors to identify where to insert needles, then guide needles to the precise location. Once in place, needles emit high frequency waves of radiation, which heats the surrounding tissues and kills off cancerous cells. Doctors can insert needles through the skin or make small incisions over the affected area.