Radiofrequency ablation is minimally invasive method that uses thermal energy to destroy tumor cells. Initially computed tomography or ultrasound is performed to locate the tumor. A special needle is introduced into the tumor using direct image guidance. This is equivalent to a standard needle biopsy. The needle is attached to a radiofrequency generator. The generator sends radiofrequency through the needle, which generates heat from frictional movement of ions. The heat destroys the tumor cells.
Patients with multiple tumors or a single large tumor that cannot be resected surgically are considered candidates for RF ablation. This includes patients with metastatic disease. Patients who cannot tolerate surgery are also ideal candidates.
Multiple types of tumors have been successfully treated with RF ablation. Liver tumors are the most common type of lesions treated. Liver tumors are treated by RF ablation in over 200 centers in the United States. Other tumor types such as lung, bone, kidney and adrenal are treated at only a few institutions. At the University of South Alabama we treat lung, liver, kidney, adrenal and bone lesions. We have plans to expand to other types of tumors as well. Treatment options are considered on a case by case basis. Patients can send their films to us to be reviewed for treatment planning.
How is RF performed?
RF ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that involves placing a special needle into a tumor using image guidance. The RF energy generates heat in a sphere of tissue surrounding the needle. The heat generated kills the tumor. The procedure is generally performed using conscious sedation. Treatment can usually be done with a single overnight stay at the hospital. Certain treatments can be done on an outpatient basis. The following figures demonstrate in order; preprocedure, placement of needle, deployment of the needle array, ablation of tumor and post ablation with a margin of tumor free tissue. These images are followed by pictures from a lung and adrenal tumor ablation.