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Image-Guided Tumor Ablation

Interventional Radiology at Mass General offers image-guided tumor ablation, a minimally invasive, image-guided therapy used to treat many types of cancerous tumors.

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What Is Image-Guided Tumor Ablation?

Image-guided tumor ablation is a procedure that destroys tumor cells with either extreme heat (radiofrequency and microwave ablation) or extreme cold (cryoablation). Our interventional radiologists deliver energy through the skin with one or more needles. They may use ultrasound or CT imaging to help guide the needle into the tumor. The procedure typically takes two hours.

Image-guided tumor ablation is a minimally invasive, image-guided therapy used to treat tumors from liver cancer, kidney cancer, lung cancer, and bone cancer. Image-guided ablation may also be used to reduce the size of a tumor so it can be more easily eliminated by conventional treatment such chemotherapy or radiation. Image-guided ablation may also provide relief when a tumor invades the chest wall and causes pain.

How to Prepare for Image-Guided Tumor Ablation

We usually perform image-guided tumor ablation procedures in the morning on an outpatient basis. Please plan to have a friend or family member drive you home after your procedure.
  • Pre-Admission Testing - We will schedule an appointment for you. During a pre-procedure clinic visit, we may test your blood to determine how well your kidneys function and whether your blood clots normally.
  • When to Arrive - Arrival time varies according to procedure. We will tell you what time to arrive when you make your appointment.
  • Eating - Please do not eat solid foods, candy or gum after 10:00 pm on the night before your procedure. We may need to reschedule your procedure if you do.
  • Drinking - Please drink only clear liquids after 10 pm on the night before your procedure. Stay hydrated by drinking one or two tall glasses every one to two hours while you are awake. Please stop drinking anything three hours before your procedure.
  • Medications - Please take your regularly scheduled medications with a sip of water. If you are currently taking any anti-coagulation medications, such as Coumadin®, Eliquis® or Plavix®, please call your referring physician for holding instructions at least five days before your procedure.
  • Pregnancy - Please let us know if there is any possibility you could be pregnant before undergoing image-guided tumor ablation.
  • Procedural Sedation - This exam uses sedation to help you feel comfortable during your procedure. You can eat and drink as you normally would the day before your procedure. Starting at 10:00 pm on the night before your procedure, please stop eating completely and only drink liquids you can see through.

What Happens After Image-Guided Tumor Ablation?

You will wait in the recovery room until you are completely awake and ready to go home. If you feel any pain following image-guided tumor ablation, we will give you pain medication either through your IV or by injection. Some patients require overnight observation in the hospital. When you are ready to go home, any mild discomfort you experience can be controlled by oral pain medications. If you feel nauseous after the procedure, we can help relieve you with medication. You should be able to resume your usual activities within a few days.

Learn More About Tumor Ablation

Watch these videos to learn more about image-guided tumor ablation from an interventional radiologist.

Refer a Patient for Interventional Radiology Services

Are you a provider who wants to refer a patient to Mass General for interventional radiology services? Call us or order online.