Watch this video with Dr. Meijernik, Interventional Radiology (Amsterdam, Netherlands) discussing how a minimally invasive procedure takes place.
Ablation allows the doctor to destroy the tumor(s) in a minimally-invasive way – using few or very small incisions. Ultrasound, CT or MRI images allow the doctor to see the liver in real time while performing the ablation procedure.
Guided by images of the liver, the doctor places the ablation antenna into the center of the tumor. There the antenna delivers heat energy to destroy the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue.
You will receive ablation treatment as an outpatient. Your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is appropriate for you.
While you are under sedation or anesthesia, the doctor will place a thin, needle-like ablation antenna through your skin. The doctor will guide the antenna into the center of the tumor.
The ablation antenna produces heat energy that surrounds the tumor. The heat destroys the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue.([FOOTNOTE=Based on internal test report #R0043973, in vivo performance testing of the Emprint™ microwave ablation system in porcine model. November 2013.],[ANCHOR=],[LINK=])
The dead tumor cells are gradually replaced by scar tissue that shrinks over time.([FOOTNOTE=Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) of Liver Tumors. American College of Radiolog and Radiological Society of North America website. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=rfaliver. Updated April 22, 2016. Accessed December 21, 2016.],[ANCHOR=],[LINK=])
Not all liver cancer patients respond to treatments like chemotherapy. Studies show that ablation is a good alternative therapy when the tumor(s) cannot be removed surgically or when the patient is waiting for a liver transplant.
Doctors generally make a decision to use ablation based on certain guidelines. For example, the tumor and surrounding normal tissues need to be located where the doctor can reach them in a minimally-invasive procedure.([FOOTNOTE=Vascular and Interventional Radiology: Tumor Ablation. Johns Hopkins Medicine. http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/interventional-radiology/procedures/tumor/ Accessed February 23, 2017.],[ANCHOR=],[LINK=]) Also, ablation is generally more effective when used on tumors that are less than 1.18 inches (3 centimeters) in size.3,([FOOTNOTE=American Cancer Society. Liver Cancer. Updated April 28, 2016. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003114-pdf.pdf Accessed December 21, 2016.],[ANCHOR=],[LINK=])
Your doctor will discuss with you the reasons for recommending ablation to treat your liver cancer.
Ablation is a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure that is performed in a hospital operating room. You will need to follow up with your doctor after your ablation procedure. Your doctor will advise you on when to schedule your follow-up visit.