At Elite RF, we have the privilege of developing RF Amplifiers that have applications in a variety of industries.  One that is dear to our hearts is the ability to support cancer treatment through RF ablation.  Here is a quick summary of the process and how RF plays a role.

Radiofrequency (RF) ablation is a common, minimally invasive cancer treatment that uses heat to destroy malignancies. With imaging techniques like computed tomography, ultrasound, and MRI, a thin electrode is guided into a tumor. Then, high-frequency currents are passed through to strategically placed grounds, creating concentrated heat that destroys any cancer cells near the electrode.

Like RF ablation, microwave ablation or MWA is another minimally invasive treatment for various cancers. It also uses MRI and CT imagery to guide the placement of a thin probe into a liver tumor. Here, microwaves are used to heat and destroy liver tumors. RF ablation and MWA can be used on several tumors at once, and the treatment can be restarted if a patient’s cancer returns.

 

Why MWA and RF Ablation Are Used to Treat Liver Cancer

Microwave and radiofrequency ablation are used to treat common types of liver cancer, such as: 

  • Colon cancer that has metastasized to the liver

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma, which has origins in the liver

RF and MWA are also used to treat other liver masses. RF ablation is best used on tumors that are smaller than one and one-half inches across. These treatments are often used along with radiation therapy or chemotherapy, and they’re sometimes used in place of surgical treatments.

If a patient isn’t a good surgical candidate because of the location of their tumor, or if pre-existing conditions make surgery risky, MWA or radiofrequency ablation may be the best approach.

 

Surgical Ablation Therapy

In some cases, surgeons perform RF ablation procedures via laparoscopy. During such a treatment, the surgeon will make a small incision near the patient’s liver and insert a laparoscope and an ablation probe. Oncologists prefer this approach for those whose tumors are near other organs, such as the intestines or the gallbladder.

MWA and RF ablation are also used to manage liver malignancies before they’re removed during surgery. Doctors typically use these methods to ensure adequate margins before tumor removal. Whether it’s done during surgery or via a probe, an anesthesiologist will always work to ensure the patient’s comfort during an ablation procedure.

Ablation Equipment

The equipment used during RF and microwave ablation procedures depends on the imaging type chosen. Other components, such as grounding pads, electrical generators, and electrodes, are also used.

Radiofrequency equipment consists of an RF amplifier that’s connected to electrodes and grounding pads. There are two electrode types: hollow, straight needles with retractable electrodes, and straight, solid needles. The amplifier sends electrical currents through the wires and into the electrodes, heating and destroying liver tumors.

Microwave ablation equipment uses a straight needle and a microwave generator.

CT equipment consists of a large machine with a center tunnel. The patient lies on a table within the tunnel as the x-ray tube and detectors rotate around them. From a separate room, a technologist monitors the exam and operates the equipment while talking to the patient via a microphone and a speaker.

Ultrasound equipment includes display screens, computer consoles, and transducers. The transducer sends sound waves into the patient’s body and listens for echoes. Then, the computer creates images based on the sound’s amplitude, pitch, and other qualities.

MRI equipment typically comes in the form of a cylindrical tube surrounded by circular magnets. Large-bore systems and open MRI units are also used to treat some patients.

Along with RF and microwave ablation equipment, other components, such as IV lines, ultrasound machines, blood pressure monitors, and heart rate monitors are used to treat liver tumors.

Ablation Therapy Recovery

RF and microwave ablation therapies done with needle probes typically require an overnight hospital stay or a day’s recovery time. Open and laparoscopic treatments require a longer, hospital-based recovery, with most patients resuming normal activities in just a few days’ time.

In Closing

Microwave ablation and RF ablation are becoming a common treatment for those suffering from liver cancer. Whether it’s used alone or in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation treatment, ablation is an effective way to destroy cancer cells without harming surrounding tissues. When used on small tumors, the chances of complete elimination may exceed 85%. In short, ablation is an effective, safe treatment for liver cancers that are otherwise difficult to treat. As always, if there are any questions on how Elite’s RF Amplifiers can play a role in your industry or if you would like to learn more about some of our products such as low noise amplifiers or linear amplifiers, contact Elite RF today.