Clinical Applications of Radio-Frequency Tumor Ablation in the Thorax

Minimally invasive alternatives to surgery for the treatment of malignancy are becoming more attractive owing to improvements in technology, reduced morbidity and mortality, and the ability to provide treatment in an outpatient setting. Radio-frequency (RF) ablation has become the imaging-guided ablative method of choice because of its relatively low cost, its capability of creating large regions of coagulative necrosis in a controlled fashion, and its relatively low toxicity. RF ablation in the thorax involves the use of computed tomography (CT) to localize the tumor and determine the optimal approach. The size of the tumor determines whether a cluster of electrodes or a single electrode of a particular length will be used to perform the ablation. CT fluoroscopy aids in guiding placement of the electrode. In patients with non–small cell lung malignancy who are not candidates for surgery owing to poor cardiorespiratory reserve, RF ablation alone or followed by conventional radiation therapy with or without chemotherapy may prove to be a treatment option. In patients with metastatic disease, RF ablation may be suitable for treatment of a small tumor burden or for palliation of larger tumors that cause symptoms such as cough, hemoptysis, or pain. Patients with chest wall or osseous metastatic tumors in whom other therapies have failed may benefit from RF ablation as an alternative to radiation therapy.

© RSNA, 2002

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Article History

Published in print: Oct 2002