Radiofrequency ablation is today the most common invasive technique used to treat thyroid pancreas, bone, liver, kidneys, and lung cancer. It is an intricate procedure done by highly experienced Interventional Radiologists. In the US, for instance, the Austin radiofrequency ablation clinic in Texas has been attested. This is due to their high patient survival rates.
What is Radiofrequency Ablation?
If you or your loved one has cancer, then you’ve probably heard the doctor say that surgeries are, at times, not an option. This usually happens when the patient’s malignant tumor is at an early stage or is in locations that can’t be surgically removable. Other times the patient is unable to afford the cost of surgical resection of the tumor.
Radiofrequency ablation involves the application of a high heat current through the tumor to kill the diseased cells.
How is it done?
Four key stages are followed to ensure a successful radiofrequency ablation.
This is the first stage taken to examine the candidacy of a patient to the treatment. It involves taking CT scans as well as MRI tests. These tests help in determining the size of your tumors as well as their location.
Patients whose tumors are located close to vital organs might not receive the treatment. Ablation of a tumor that’s close to the gallbladder or diaphragm could result in severe pain during and after the procedure.
Choosing an Approach
The most common choice of treatment is the percutaneous approach. The reason being that it’s the least invasive approach, relatively inexpensive, and can be repeated as many times as required to treat recurrent tumors successfully.
Conscious sedation of patients is sufficient for this approach, unlike a laparoscopy or open surgical treatment, which requires general anesthesia and is more expensive and invasive.
Needle Placement and the Treatment Strategy
The success of radiofrequency ablation is dependent on proper needle placement. The process is carried out under MRI, sonographic, or CT guidance.
The radiologists must plan the point of entry as well as the safest trajectory before inserting the needle. Confirmation of the needle entry point is done using a contrast-soaked cotton pad.
The treatment strategy differs depending on the tumor size. Large tumors require overlapping of multiple ablations to ensure the heat currents are sufficient in killing cancer. Doctors begin ablations on the deepest parts of the tumors and finish with the superficial parts to prevent obscuration of the lesions
Follow Up Stage
This is the final stage that involves evaluation to ensure that your tumor has been successfully removed. Follow up is done at 1, 3, 6, and 18 months intervals to determine whether there is any residual tumors.
Should I Be Worried?
As mentioned earlier, this technique should only be done by experienced interventional radiologists. This is because of the complications that may occur if done wrongly. Too much heat current could lead to death as a result of severe injuries caused by overtreatment.
Additionally, a lower survival rate can be the outcome of a mismatch of the size of the lesion, leading to under-treatment, which causes a recurrence of the tumor.
Clinical experience is, therefore, crucial in ensuring a high survival rate of patients undertaking a radiofrequency ablation treatment.