Microwave Liver Ablation

What is microwave liver ablation?

Microwave liver ablation is the destruction of liver tumours using microwave energy. It is a very promising alternative to surgery for treating patients with liver cancer. It can also be used to treat cancers that originate in other parts of the body and spread to the liver such as colorectal or neuroendocrine tumours.

How does microwave liver ablation work?

Microwaves can be used to generate very high temperatures in a short period of time. The heat can be focussed on the tumours, destroying cancer cells while minimising damage to the surrounding healthy tissue.

Why is microwave liver ablation done?

Microwave liver ablation may be done because of any of the following reasons:

  • The liver can’t be resected
  • There isn’t enough liver to regenerate itself
  • The tumours are in an inaccessible position within the liver
  • The patient is too old for surgery
  • The patient has comorbid conditions that do not allow surgery

What are the benefits of microwave liver ablation?

The benefits of microwave liver ablation include:

  • High intra-tumoural temperatures
  • Larger tumour ablation volumes
  • Fast ablation times
  • Multiple applicators can be used
  • Improved convection profile
  • Optimized heating of cystic masses
  • Less procedural pain
  • Does not require ancillary components such as grounding pads
  • Much quicker recovery when compared to open surgery

How is microwave liver ablation performed?

A microwave probe is placed into the tumour using CT, ultrasound guidance or open/laparoscopic surgery. The probe is attached to a power source, which produces microwave energy that passes through the probe into the tumour. The tumour and a thin rim of healthy tissue are destroyed by the heat generated from the microwave energy. Destruction of the tumour is carefully monitored using ultrasound imaging. The time required to destroy the tumour is usually around 4 to 5 minutes. You may be discharged from hospital a day or two after the procedure.

What are the risks of microwave liver ablation?

Microwave liver ablation has a very low complication and infection rate.