Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a procedure in which the lining of the gastrointestinal tract is superficially burnt using heat to rid the lining of abnormal cells and growths. Conditions like Barrett's Oesophagitis and gastric antral vascular ectasia (GAVE) cause abnormal tissues and can be pre-cancerous. With ablation, heat causes death of unwanted tissue abnormalities in the lining. By eliminating the abnormalities, not only can Dr Mokhele treat the condition but lower your risk of developing cancer in this area.
Why might radiofrequency ablation be needed?
Those with Barrett's Oesophagitis are often at risk of developing cancer due to the presence of abnormal cells while those suffering from gastric antral vascular ectasia (GAVE) are anaemic due to abnormal red blood cells caused by the condition. In comparison to other treatment methods, radiofrequency ablation has the best results for these conditions.
What does radiofrequency ablation involve?
Prior to radiofrequency ablation, your gastroenterologist will instruct you to stop eating 8 hours before so that your stomach and bowels are empty for the procedure. Depending on the location of abnormal tissue, either a gastroscopy or colonoscopy will be used. For Barrett's Oesophagitis, a gastroscopy would be used while a colonoscopy may be used for treatment of gastric antral vascular ectasia (GAVE) depending on the location of the abnormalities.
Radiofrequency ablation is usually done in theatre with the use of deep sedation or general anaesthesia. With the use of an endoscope which is a thin tube-like instrument fitted with a camera at the end, through either the mouth or anus (either gastroscopy or colonoscopy) heat energy is directed towards the abnormal tissue in the gastrointestinal tract. He will choose which electrode should be used and how much ablation is necessary depending on your specific case. The energy delivered by the electrode will lead to high-temperature heating of the tissue lining, burning away the problematic tissues.
The entire procedure should only take about 30 minutes to complete. After the procedure, we will need to wait for the sedative or anaesthesia to wear off before you can go home. You will need someone to drive you home.
You may experience a mild sore throat, bloating, gas and cramping after an endoscopy procedure, of which is all normal. Because the tissues were burnt, they should shed in the next day or two and be replaced by healthy tissue. During this time, Dr Mokhele may advise a specific diet to allow time for healing. You will need to have a follow-up with your gastroenterologist to ensure that the procedure worked and that the new lining is free from abnormalities. In some cases, more than one radiofrequency ablation is needed.
Gastrocure, Eastern Cape
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