What is Radio Frequency energy?
- Radio frequency (RF) is a form of electrical energy oscillating in the frequency range of 300 kilohertz (kHz) to 1 megahertz (MHz).
- The use of RF energy in medicine was first developed in 1925 by Dr. Harvey Cushing and Dr. William Bovie who introduced RF energy for the cutting of tissue and coagulation during a surgical procedure.
- These low frequency radio waves cause ionic agitation increasing the temperature of the tissue.
- Surgeons can deliver RF energy with a high level of precision and control, without affecting the adjacent normal tissue.
- RF energy delivers lower operating temperatures compared to other electrical delivery systems enabling surgeons to accurately pinpoint its delivery.
- RF energy can penetrate the tissues affected without any perception of heat, making it virtually painless, and allowing a quick recovery.
- The benefits of RF energy were reintroduced to the modern world in 2004 when Prime Minister Tony Blair was treated for a heart condition with RF energy, and returned to work the next day.
What other application in medicine utilize RF energy?
RF energy is used in many other medical conditions including the following:
- Benign prostate hypertrophy: is a medical condition in which an enlarged prostate gland causes urination problems. RF energy delivered to the prostate gland by an urologist can result in volumetric reduction of the prostate, alleviating the urinary obstructive symptoms. This is an alternative to a surgical removal of the prostate for the same condition.
- Cardiac arrhythmias: Abnormal heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, and supraventricular tachycardia can be treated and cured with RF energy. A cardiologist delivers RF energy with a catheter to a defined area of the heart where an abnormal heart rhythm is located, resulting in resolution of the abnormal rhythm. This technique obviates the need for surgical treatment of arrhythmias.
- Treating cancers: including, liver, lung, breast, bone and pancreatic cancer. Utilizing a minimally invasive technique, a catheter delivers RF energy by image guidance to an individual cancer growth resulting in destruction of the tumor.
- Severe Asthma: can be treated with Bronchial thermoplasty: Severe asthmatics have increased airway smooth muscle activity responsible for bronchoconstriction and narrowing of the airway. RF energy can be applied to the airway smooth muscle to reduce the smooth muscle mass and lessen its ability to constrict the airway, decreasing the severity and frequency of asthma flair-ups.
- Varicose veins: RF energy is delivered via a catheter into the abnormal varicose veins resulting in ablation of the veins. This technique is an alternative to the surgical option of stripping or removing the vein.
- Barrett’s esophagus: is a condition in which abnormal cells (metaplasia) form in the lining of the lower esophagus (swallowing tube). Barrett’s esophagus can predispose to esophageal cancer, and therefore should be treated. RF energy delivered by a gastroenterologist can successfully treat Barrett’s esophagus, decreasing the risk of cancer formation.
- Uterine fibroids can be ablated with RF energy, obviating the need for surgical excision.
- Morton’s neuroma, a growth of fibrous tissue surrounding the plantar nerve under the foot, can be treated RF energy, avoiding alternative treatments with surgical excision.
- Severe hypertension: Hypertension is very common, and in some forms of very difficult to treat hypertension, RF energy is delivered to the nerve endings in the renal arteries (kidney blood vessels), resulting in resolution of the hypertension.
- Chronic pain: Radiofrequency Neurotomy: RF is utilized to treat chronic low back pain. RF is delivered to specific nerves, eliminating the chronic pain. It can be applied for facet joint pain, or sacroiliac joint pain caused by arthritis or other degenerative conditions.
- Skin rejuvenation: RF energy can be applied to the ageing skin resulting in “tightening” the skin laxity for aesthetic applications.
If you or someone you know is in need of a better night’s sleep, contact us for a no obligation consultation. We are the sleep specialists at Chevy Chase ENT located in the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. metro area dealing with sleep apnea and sleep-related problems. We can help diagnose your condition, recommend whether a sleep study would be beneficial, and offer you a variety of treatment options including CPAP, Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) and more.