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Benefits and risks

Benefits and risks

When NICE looked at the evidence, it decided that there is not enough evidence to be sure how well the procedure works. The studies involved a small number of patients and there was no long-term follow-up. Also there were no studies to compare radiofrequency ablation with other techniques. The 7 studies that NICE looked at involved a total of 63 patients.

Generally, they showed the following benefits in the 6 months after treatment:

  • no transfusions were needed in 65–86% of the patients who depended on blood transfusions before the procedure

  • there was an increase in the levels of most patients' haemoglobin (a protein in the blood that carries oxygen around the body).

The studies showed that the risks of radiofrequency ablation included:

  • ulcers in 3 patients; 2 healed without treatment and no further details were given for the other patient

  • a tear in the tissue between the oesophagus (gullet) and the stomach in 1 patient, which healed in 1 month without treatment

  • polyps in the stomach after 4 sessions of radiofrequency ablation in 1 patient, which were removed.

If you want to know more about the studies, see the guidance. Ask your health professional to explain anything you don't understand.

  • Information Standard