What is Radiofrequency Ablation?
Radiofrequency Ablation is a minimally invasive treatment for cancer or other types of pain management. RFA uses heat produced through radiofrequency energy to slowly induce the destruction of the tumor. This can be used on both primary and secondary lesions.
Ideal patients for RFA include patient who:
- Have one to three small tumors
- Are not an operative candidate
- Have recurrent or progressive lesions
What to expect during RFA treatment:
You will receive intravenous (IV) conscious sedation, a combination of a sedative (sleep inducer) and a narcotic (pain killer) for your procedure. This is commonly referred to as “twilight sleep.” The doctor will make a small nick in the skin and using CT guidance will insert a needle into the tumor to be treated. Once in the correct area, the hook electrodes are deployed into the tumor. The treatment is started by applying electrical current from a small device called a radiofrequency current generator. The current flows through the electrodes and causes ionic agitation. This agitation creates heat and once sufficient temperatures have been reached, the heat kills the tissue. This procedure takes about two hours depending upon size of tumors and number of tumors to be ablated.
What to expect after RFA treatment:
You will spend from 3 to 6 hours recovering in the post care area under the care of our clinical staff (critical care trained registered nurses). You will receive IV medications for pain, discomfort, or nausea. As you recover, your care giver will fill your prescriptions to control pain and nausea. You will return to the office next day for a contrasted CT (cat scan) to assess tumor(s) size after the RFA procedure. Additionally you will return in 3 months for a follow up contrasted CT. Recovery time is about 48 hours.
Will my insurance cover the RFA treatment?
Most insurance companies do cover RFA treatment. A few insurance companies require prior-authorization. We have a staff member solely dedicated to obtaining verification from your insurance as well as authorization if required.
For inoperable liver tumors, radiofrequency ablation (RFA) offers a nonsurgical, localized treatment that kills the tumor cells with heat, while sparing the healthy liver tissue. Thus, this treatment is much easier on the patient than systemic therapy. Radiofrequency energy can be given without affecting the patient’s overall health and most people can resume their usual activities in a few days.
In this procedure, the interventional radiologist guides a small needle through the skin into the tumor. From the tip of the needle, radiofrequency energy (similar to microwaves) is transmitted to the tip of the needle, where it produces heat in the tissues. The dead tumor tissue shrinks and slowly forms a scar. The FDA has approved RFA for the treatment of liver tumors.