Griffin Hospital offers hope to cancer patients with a new, cutting edge treatment for liver cancer. This procedure, Radiofrequency Ablation, is used to obliterate tumors of the liver by heating them until the cells die. RFA allows treatment for patients who might otherwise be untreatable due to the size or location of the tumors or other health problems. Most tumors in the liver are typically treated with chemotherapy and, with selected patients, surgery can help. Unfortunately in most cases, the liver tumors are inoperable because of the number, size or location. Radiofrequency ablation can be utilized for many of these patients.
What is Radiofrequency Ablation?
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) causes the cellular destruction of soft tissue by heating them. Heat is generated through agitation caused by alternating electrical current (radiofrequency energy) moving through tissue. The heat results in local cells coagulation: coagulated cells die and cannot continue to grow.
How does RFA work?
Using conventional imaging methods (ultrasound, CT Scan or MRI guidance), a needle electrode is positioned strategically within the area to be treated. The needle is connected to a unique radiofrequency generator and electrical current is delivered into the tissue.An umbrella-like array of electrodes are deployed into the tumor and the more than 100 degree centigrade heat generated from the current destroys the tumor without damaging other parts of the liver. As cells are heated they are destroyed. RFA is similar to that of a microwave, where the heat is from inside out. Destroyed cells are reabsorbed by the body over time.
How long is the procedure?
The duration of the procedure depends of many factors including the number of applications and the location of the area to be treated. At Griffin Hospital, RFA is performed laparoscopically where the surgeon makes a number of small incisions and inserts a laparoscopic ultrasound directly on the site. The patient is sedated and connected to an IV through which medication will flow. The procedure takes about 15-20 minutes and the patient will likely be able to return home the same day.