Ablation is a medical procedure that removes a layer of tissue using surgery or less invasive techniques. It is used to treat a variety of medical conditions, from serious to cosmetic. In some cases, ablation destroys problem tissues. In other cases, it stimulates tissue growth to restore function.
Superficial ablation can be done on the skin, eyes, or other superficial tissues. Many procedures are used for different purposes.
Superficial skin ablation involves removing a layer of tissue to:
- Treat discoloration
- It improves skin texture.
- Eliminate superficial lesions, warts or tumors.
When used for cosmetic purposes to stimulate skin regeneration, this is called dermabrasion and is usually performed by a dermatologist in a doctor's office. Techniques used for skin ablation include:
- Laser ablation : The laser is mainly used for superficial lesions or discoloration.
- Chemoablation : Topical acids are used to cleanse the skin or remove warts.
- Cryoablation : Cold gases like liquid nitrogen or argon freeze the skin.
- Fulguration : high frequency currents remove minor lesions or warts.
Laser eye treatments, which are used to treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, are another form of superficial ablation.
The technique, also known as Lasik surgery , removes cells from the corneal surface to reshape it and correct your vision. Eye laser treatment is carried out by ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) in medical institutions.
Ear, nose and throat
Superficial ablation can also be used for ENT procedures involving the ear, nose, or throat. One of these procedures removes excess soft tissue on the roof of the mouth to treat snoring or sleep apnea . Other treatments may be done on the sinuses, tonsils, and thyroid nodules.
Ablation versus resection
Ablation differs from resection , which involves partial or complete removal of an organ. Rather, ablation aims to remove a layer (or layers) of tissue to restore normal function.
Cardiac ablation is a technique used primarily to correct heart rhythm problems ( arrhythmias ). The procedure destroys heart tissue to block certain nerve pathways, which stops the electrical signals that cause arrhythmias.
Cardiac ablation is usually performed by cardiologists in a hospital setting. They insert a thin, flexible tube (called a catheter) through a vein or artery in the groin and advance it toward the heart. The energy is then used to freeze or burn a piece of tissue.
This technique, commonly known as catheter ablation, can be used to treat arrhythmias in both the atria (upper chambers) and ventricles (lower chambers) of the heart. even:
- Atrial flutter ablation (involving the atria)
- Isolation of the pulmonary vein (including the atria)
- Supraventricular tachycardia ablation (affecting the atria)
- Ventricular tachycardia ablation (affecting the ventricles)
A similar technique can be applied to arterial blocks that are not amenable to a standard balloon angioplasty . This procedure, known as a rotatherectomy , involves the use of a small diamond-tipped drill that removes fat and restores blood flow.
Endometrial ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that destroys the endometrium (the lining of the uterus). The purpose of the procedure is to reduce or stop heavy menstrual bleeding . It is usually performed by gynecologists in a medical center.
For all types of endometrial ablation, the instruments are inserted through the vagina into the uterus. Several methods are used, including:
- High energy radio frequency: the expanded mesh transmits the electrical current generated by radio waves.
- Balloon thermal ablation : The balloon is filled with fluid at 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Microwave endometrial ablation (MEA) : Microwave energy passes into the uterus through a thin tube.
- Cryoablation : The probe uses a temperature of -4 degrees Fahrenheit to freeze the coating.
Endometrial ablation is not a form of birth control or sterilization. After that, you still ovulate and pregnancy is possible, although unlikely, because the fertilized egg does not have an endometrium to implant.
You should not have endometrial ablation if you want to have children in the future. If you become pregnant after ablation, you have a significantly increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, and death of the baby (before or after delivery).
However, since you are still ovulating, pregnancy is possible. If you are considering ablation, talk with your doctor about options such as contraceptive surgery or sterilization surgery.
Other types of ablation
Ablation has many other uses as well, including:
- Bone Marrow Ablation – Usually used to remove bone marrow before bone marrow transplantation ; performed with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
- Ablative Brain Surgery – Used to treat certain neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease and cluster headaches .
- Venous ablation : Removal of the saphenous vein in the leg to correct varicose veins, or a condition called venous reflux.
Get the word of drug information
Most types of ablation can be used for different purposes, and preparation and repair can be different for each. Make sure your doctor discusses these problems with you so you know what to expect.