Ablation is a treatment method that destroys liver tumors without removing them. The technique can be used in patients where primary tumors are small, and surgery is not considered to be a good option.
The treatment is also sometimes used in patients waiting for a liver transplant.
Ablation is preferred to treat tumors no larger than 3 cm. The procedure often destroys some of the normal tissue around the tumor, therefore it is not a great option for treating tumors near major blood vessels.
Ablation is an outpatient procedure and therefore, patients do not need to stay in a hospital for the treatment.
Types of Ablation methods:
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)
Radiofrequency ablation is one of the most common ablation methods that uses high-energy radio waves. During the procedure, the doctor inserts a thin, needle-like probe into the tumor, followed by which a high-frequency current is passed which not only heats the tumor but also destroys the cancer cells.
Microwave ablation (MWA)
This procedure uses the energy from electromagnetic waves to heat and destroy the tumor.
Cryoablation destroys a tumor by freezing it using a thin metal probe. The probe is guided into the tumor and then very cold gases are passed through the probe to freeze the tumor which leads to the death of cancer cells.
Ethanol (alcohol) ablation
During the procedure, concentrated alcohol is injected directly into the tumor to damage and destroy cancer cells.
Side effects of ablation therapy
Possible side effects after ablation therapy includes: abdominal pain, infection in the liver, fever. There could be some serious complications as well.