Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency ablation is a procedure in which heat is used to treat certain kinds of lesions. We use RFA most commonly for benign bone growths such as an osteoid osteoma.


Using a CT scan for guidance, a radiologist places a special hollow needle into the area of bone that requires treatment. For certain occasions, the doctor biopsies the bone by removing a small piece of it and sends it to a laboratory for analysis.

Next, the doctor threads a tiny heating probe through the middle of the special needle. The probe is insulated, except for at its tip. A machine attached to the probe transmits heat to the tip, and the heated tip is used to destroy the tumor or lesion. The tumor or lesion is not removed; over time it will be replaced with scar tissue. A bandage will be placed at the site of the procedure.

The procedure should take one to two hours.


Patients receive either IV sedation or general anesthesia and are asleep for this procedure.


Most children immediately feel less pain after the procedure. If there is still lingering pain at the needle-insertion site, you may give your child over-the-counter pain medication.


The procedure is considered low-risk. However, potential complications include:

  • blood vessel or nerve damage
  • bone fracture (rare)
  • skin burn at the needle-insertion site
  • infection
  • incomplete treatment; recurrence of lesion

After the Procedure

Your child will be able to go home on the same day. We will bring your child to the recovery area after the procedure and once they are awake and able to keep liquids down, you will be able to take your child home.


Leave the bandage on for 24 hours and keep it dry. After 24 hours, you may remove the clear bandage and gauze but do not remove the white Steri-Strips®. If the Steri-Strips® have not fallen off after seven days, you may remove them.

Remember to keep the site completely dry for the first 24 hours. After 24 hours, your child may have a sponge bath or shower, but continue to keep the area dry. (Keep water from the shower from falling directly on the injection site.) Do not submerge the site in water (bath or pool) until the white Steri-Strips® have fallen off.

Activity Restrictions

Your child can resume most activities the day after the procedure. Sometimes weight-bearing activities such as heavy lifting may need to be restricted. Please ask the doctor or other members of the Interventional Radiology team about returning to sports or strenuous activity, as this may depend on the area that was treated.