Ablate means to remove, especially by cutting, or to
destroy the function of. Ablation means removal of a
body part or to destroy the function of a body part
through surgery, use of a harmful substance, chipping,
vaporization, or some other destructive process.
Ablation also means removal of a harmful substance or
growth. One example is dermabrasion, which removes
the surface skin layer usually through lasers or by
applying chemicals, which causes peeling.
Dermabrasion can remove small areas of tattoos, skin spots, and wrinkles. When lasers
are used in ablation they essentially vaporize tissue.
Surgical ablation of heart muscle is done by applying radio waves (known as
radiofrequency ablation) to heart tissue with the purpose of stopping arrhythmias
(abnormal heart rhythms from areas known as "hot spots."). See above for a picture
showing this process. Catheters are threaded into the heart to apply the ablation to the
hot spot. A catheter is a flexible, hollow tube that is inserted into an opening of the body,
blood vessel, or duct in the body, with the main purpose of allowing fluids, gas, or
surgical instruments to pass from or into these areas. A technique known as
rotoabalation involves placing a small, diamond-tipped drill-like device into and artery to
remove fat build-up and/or plaque with the goal or improving blood flow.
Ablation of brain tissue is sometimes done to treat diseases of the brain, such as removing an area of
tissue believed to cause seizures. Seizures are involuntary muscle movements and/or decreased
awareness of the environment due to overexcitement of nerve cells in the brain. Ablate comes from the
Greek word "ab" meaning "from," and the Greek word "latus" meaning "carried away." Put the two words
together and you have "carried away from."