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Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation (RFA)


To treat cancer with RFA, a metal probe is inserted through the skin and into the tumor.

This procedure is the most commonly available ablative technique and has been used in the liver, lung, bone, adrenal and kidney for treatment of tumors up to 6 cm in diameter. A special needle is placed into the target lesion using x-ray, CT, or ultrasound guidance. Energy in the form of a high frequency alternating current is delivered through the needle that produces intense local heating of the tissue that kills the tumor. This procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis at UNC REX Healthcare. In the lung this procedure can be done with local anesthesia only. In many cases these procedures can be performed with intravenous sedation, as general anesthesia is only occasionally required. In some cases this technique is used in combination with other methods including chemoembolization and microsphere therapy.

Other Ablative Techniques:


Prongs pop open to deliver RF energy, which generates heat that kills cancer cells

Cryoablation is a similar technology that uses intense cold delivered through a special probe. This technique can treat a larger area as multiple probes can be placed. This technique is also associated with less discomfort and usually does not need general anesthesia. Chemoablation involves the injection of absolute ethanol or glacial acetic acid directly into a tumor through a needle placed under image guidance. In some cases this is the only means of treating a tumor due to proximity to a blood vessel or some other critical structure.

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