Tumor ablation is a procedure performed in vascular surgery and interventional radiology to treat solid tumors. Although there are many different modalities of tumor ablation, in general it is the direct application of therapy to a specific mass in an attempt to eliminate or at least diminish a tumor. The term “direct” is used in comparison to the several therapies aimed toward tumor destruction that are given intravenously. This paper will give an overview of how tumor ablation is performed, the risks and benefits involving the procedure, and an overview of the practice of tumor ablation within the liver, lung, kidney, and bone.
In order to perform tumor ablation imaged guidance is needed, which is why it is a growing field within interventional radiology. First, imaging is required to determine if tumor ablation is a viable option for a solid tumor. The procedure is usually performed if individuals are not surgical candidates. This may be due to advanced staging or multiple comorbidities of the individual. Pre-ablation imaging may also give information regarding tumor size, shape, and location. Location is of utmost importance because it may give information regarding where it is in regards to organs and blood vessels at risk for injury during ablation. Tumor ablation can be guided via almost any radiological study: ultrasonography (US), computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, and fluoroscopy. 1 By using these modalities, the practitioner can locate the tumor and precisely insert a probe or needle inside the mass for the ablation.
After the mass and surrounding structures are located, the ablation may occur. One must first decide on what...
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..., RFA is a promising alternative. The risks of ablation in bone tumors are specific to the location of the specific bone. However, in weight-bearing joints there is an added risk of cartilage damage and mechanical weakening of the bone.
In summary, ablation provides an outstanding alternative to surgical tumor resection. In general, ablation can be performed via chemical, thermal, and cryotherapy; however, RFA remains to be the most commonly performed modality. Although ablation is most commonly performed in liver, kidney, lung, and bone tumors it has been shown to be effective in breast cancer, prostate cancer, and uterine fibroids (McWilliams). Regardless of tumor site, ablation therapy provides many advantages over standard surgical resection, and with emerging research and technological advances it may continue to transform current tumor and cancer treatment.
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