Radiofrequency Ablation

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What is Radiofrequency Ablation?

This is a minimally invasive procedure that is performed under a CAT Scan, usually by a highly specialized musculoskeletal radiologist, in which a needle or probe is inserted into the lesion and the lesion is heated and destroyed. The CAT scan is utilized to localize the Osteoid Osteoma so the needle can be guided directly into the tumor. It is an outpatient procedure. The patient goes home the same day. It is minimally invasive and therefore only a small stab incision or poke hole is made for the needle. The procedure does require that the patient be put to sleep with general anesthesia because insertion of the needle into the Osteoid Osteoma is very painful. The patient must also lie motionless during the procedure. The procedure is greater than 90% effective. This is the same success rate as with actual surgical removal. The pain from the osteoid osteoma is usually relieved within 1 day. Often in the recovery room after the procedure, the patient will say that the pain from the tumor is gone. There is full use of the leg or arm and return to normal activities the following day. There is virtually no blood loss and very little risk (less than 1% risk) of developing an infection after the procedure. Less than 10% of the time the procedure needs to be repeated or the patient requires a surgical procedure to remove the tumor.

What’s involved in the technique?

A needle or probe is inserted under CT scan so we can specifically locate the tumor. Once we have located the tumor, radiofrequency waves are aimed and ablate (or melt) the cells.



  • Infection - less than 1% risk
  • Persistent Pain or Failure to Eradicate the Tumor Completely: A second RF Ablation procedure or a surgical procedure may be required.
  • Recurrence of the Osteoid Osteoma: The tumor may come back up to two years after the procedure. This is unusual (less than 10% chance) but the patient needs to be monitored after the procedure. The patient will begin to experience the pain again if the tumor comes back (recurs). Please note: there will always be a persistent scar in the bone that can be seen on an X-ray after the procedure.
  • Skin Burn: This is a rare event however osteoid osteomas that are adjacent to the skin may predispose the skin to a small burn. Care is taken to ensure that the probe is buried within the nidus to minimize the risk of a burn.

What you can expect afterwards

Radiofrequency Ablation is performed in combination with surgery, and there are no additional instructions you need to follow outside of the post-op instructions

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Radiofrequency Ablation Video


Video by Stryker Corporation Interventional Spine