Renal Radiofrequency Ablation
What is RFA?
Radiofrequency (RF) ablation is a non-surgical procedure that offers hope for patients suffering from kidney cancer. Our highly trained urologists and radiologists perform radiofrequency ablation in collaboration at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Until recently, treatment options were limited to traditional open or laparoscopic surgery. Today, radiofrequency ablation allows physicians to locally treat malignant tumors more easily, more safely, and less invasively.
You will be asked to arrive a few hours before your scheduled procedure, to allow time to complete routine blood work, and prepare you for the procedure. Provided that the blood test are within normal limits, you will be transported to the procedure suite. The risks, benefits and alternatives of the procedure to be performed will be discussed, and you will be given a chance to ask questions.
While the patient is under minimal anesthesia, an ablation needle is percutaneously guided into the center of the tumor inside the kidney, with the aid of imaging guidance, either ultrasound or computed tomography (CT). Once in position, the probe is connected to a radiofrequency generator and produces heat up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, causing the cancerous cells to shrink and die within minutes. This may be repeated, depending on the size and location of the tumor. Because there are no incisions and/or cutting involved, patients experience minimal discomfort, a faster recovery, and less scarring than those having traditional open surgery, and typically leave with a small bandage over the site of the procedure.
Following the procedure, some patients may be able to return home the same day, while others may be kept for an extended period of observation. RF ablation targets the kidney tumor, which allows for the preservation of as much normal kidney tissue as possible. RF ablation should be considered as an effective treatment option for patients who have tumors smaller than a golf ball, a single kidney, patients who are not good surgical candidates due to age or other associated medical conditions, cannot tolerate a more extensive surgery, or may experience an increased risk of complications from surgery.