What are Radiofrequency and Microwave Ablation of Kidney Tumors?
Radiofrequency ablation, sometimes referred to as RFA, is a minimally invasive treatment for cancer. It is an image-guided technique that uses heat to destroy cancer cells. It uses imaging techniques such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to help guide a needle electrode into a cancerous tumor. High-frequency electrical currents are then passed through the electrode to ground pads placed on the body, creating focal heat that destroys the cancer cells surrounding the electrode.
Microwave ablation (MWA) is also a minimally-invasive treatment for cancer. MWA also uses ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to guide placement of a specialized needle-like probe into a tumor. MWA uses microwaves to heat and destroy the tumor and is used for the same indications as RFA. The procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis or with overnight observation in the hospital with general anesthesia. For the patient, MWA offers low risk and a short hospital stay. Ablation can be used to treat multiple tumors simultaneously. The procedure can be repeated if new cancer appears.
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What are some common uses of the procedure?
Radiofrequency and microwave ablation are used to treat renal cell carcinoma (kidney tumors).
Ablation is a viable and effective treatment option if you:
have one kidney.
have other medical conditions which might prevent surgery.
are older and might have difficulty with surgery or postsurgical recovery.
have tumors of less than four centimeters in size.
have tumors in both kidneys or a familial predisposition (family history) to multiple kidney tumors.
have a recurrent tumor after surgical resection.
Ablation may also be used pre-operatively to decrease blood loss during surgery.