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CT Guided Radiofrequency Ablation

A CT guided radiofrequency (RF) ablation is an interventional procedure which involves the insertion of a needle electrode into a tumor through the skin. Radiofrequency wave energy is then passed through the needle into the tumor. This wave energy causes friction which produces heat, this heat, in turn, induces coagulation necrosis and tumor cell death.

Preparation for Your Exam

Please avoid eating solid foods and drinking liquids other than water for 6-8 hours prior to the examination. Routine medications may be taken. If you are diabetic, consult with your doctor regarding insulin dose.

You are scheduled to arrive one hour before your procedure to allow for preparation. Your procedure is scheduled on the West campus and you are expected to report to the Day Care unit on the 8 th floor of the Farr Building. Upon arriving you will have a complete pre-procedure workup performed by the Radiology nursing staff. This work-up involves starting an IV, drawing blood, and meeting with the radiologist to discuss the ablation procedure and obtain your written consent. Once these pre-procedure steps have been completed you will be taken to the CT Department.

During The Exam

You will be brought into the CT room and asked to lie on an x-ray table. A CT scan of your body will be taken to determine the best area of approach to the tumor of interest. The radiologist will then clean off the skin over the determined area of interest with a special soap. You will be given numbing medication in the skin through a small needle. You will feel a pinch as the numbing medicine is injected. You should not feel any pain after this. The radiologist will then insert a needle electrode through the numbed area of skin and into the tumor of interest. You may feel some pressure when this happens. Once the needle is in the center of the tumor RF energy waves will be transmitted into the tumor through the needle electrode. Once the tumor cells have been destroyed, the needle electrode will then be removed and your skin will be cleaned off again, a Band-Aide will be applied over the spot.

How long will it take?

RF ablation procedures vary in length of time, depending on the size and number of tumors being treated. In general, an RF ablation procedure will last 1 and ½ hours. An RF ablation will necessitate a post-procedure observation period of 2-4 hours to ensure no complications resulting from the procedure.

Will it hurt

There may be some discomfort associated with this procedure. Most cases will require the administration of painkillers and/or anti-anxiety medications. The most involved procedures generally will involve insertion of a small intravenous line and monitoring by our Radiology nursing staff in order to administer medications intravenously. Every effort is made to minimize any discomfort during the procedure.

After The Exam

You should feel well, but may experience some tenderness around the area that the needle electrode was inserted.

Here are some guidelines for how to care for yourself after the ablation:

  • Take it easy. Do not strain, lift heavy objects, or do physical exercise for the first 24 hours after your procedure.
  • Please do not take aspirin or aspirin-like products (i.e. Motrin, Advil, Nuprin, or Aleve) for 3 weeks unless your doctor says it's all right.
  • Keep the area of skin around the insertion site clean and dry.

Getting Your Results

You will be given initial results after the ablation procedure is completed by the performing radiologist. However, follow-up CT scans will need to be performed at later dates to actively monitor the tumor's response to the RF ablation procedure.