Interventional radiologists perform percutaneous (through the skin) ablation for cancer. These are minimally invasive procedures designed to destroy abnormal tissues in the body. You may have heard of ablation in discussions about cancer treatments, as it is particularly effective in targeting certain tumours. There are several modalities of percutaneous ablation, allowing customisation to the particular organ, tumour type and adjacent critical structures.
Using high-frequency electrical currents, radiofrequency ablation generates enough heat to remove abnormal tissue from the body. All this process requires is the insertion of a thin, needle-shaped electrode that delivers radiofrequency energy into a targeted area. The treatment of kidney, lung and bone tumours tends to benefit most from radiofrequency ablation.
Like the prefix ‘cryo’ suggests, cryoablation refers to the application of extreme cold that freezes and destroys abnormal structures, like small tumours, in the body. Instead of an electrode, a cryoprobe is inserted into the affected area. A refrigerant, like liquid nitrogen, circulates through this probe, causing the impacted tissue to experience cell death. Cryoablation is widely considered a safe and effective treatment, with great success in stopping the spread of cancer cells.
Microwave energy is useful for far more than just heating up food! Microwave ablation harnesses microwave energy to generate heat, much like radiofrequency ablation, to break apart abnormal tissue. Electromagnetic waves are released that rapidly heat and destroy tumour cells, and therefore can cover much larger ablation zones. Microwave ablation is currently being discussed as a treatment for metastatic cancer.
Although it sounds intimidating, chemical ablation is both safe and effective. A chemical mixture is injected into the target area, damaging and destroying abnormal tissue, like tumours, or varicose veins. Chemical ablation is sometimes interchanged with ethanol ablation, a more specific process where ethanol is directly injected into a tumour to destroy cells.
If you are in need of treatment, or are eager to learn more about interventional radiology, contact Lumina Interventional Radiology today. Our team of professional radiologists will be certain to assist you.