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What is Thermal Ablation?

  • Thermal ablation is the direct application of energy, using either heat or cold, to diseased soft tissue (tumors) to achieve total or substantial destruction of the target tissue.
  • Thermal ablation can be applied directly to the diseased tissue using various methods.
  • Microwave ablation applies high heat directly to the diseased tissue, which agitates water molecules in the tissue, generates heat, and causes ablation of the target tissue.
  • Radiofrequency ablation applies high heat directly to the diseased tissue, which causes an electric current to be generated in the tissue, generates heat and causes ablation of the target tissue.
  • High Intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) focuses high intensity ultrasound waves on the diseased tissue, which generates heat and causes ablation of the target tissue.
  • Cryoablation applies extremely cold temperatures directly to the diseased tissue to cause ablation of the target tissue.

How does microwave ablation work?

  • A generator/control system (machine) and a slender rod-shaped applicator, referred to as an antenna, are used to deliver and monitor the treatment. The applicator is placed directly into the target tissue and connected to the control system. The control system is then used to deliver a controlled amount of microwave energy into the targeted diseased tissue. Depending on the control system, microwave energy is generated using a frequency of either 915 MHz or 2450 MHz. The microwave energy travels down the applicator and directly into the tissue.
  • The high heat generated by the interaction of the microwaves with the water molecules causes the diseased tissue to coagulate, leading to cellular death.

Is microwave ablation of soft-tissue an FDA-approved procedure?

  • The MedWaves  AveCure™ microwave ablation system has been cleared by the FDA for use in people for coagulation (ablation) of soft tissue.

Is microwave ablation the right procedure for my type of diagnosis?

  • This is a topic that you and your physician need to thoroughly discuss to determine whether microwave ablation, or another treatment, is the right treatment for your diagnosis.

How is the microwave ablation procedure done?

  • Microwave ablation is performed by an interventional radiologist, a physician who is specially trained to perform minimally invasive procedures using imaging guidance.
  • Your doctor will discuss with you the preparation and the type of anesthesia to be used for your procedure. Microwave ablation is usually delivered percutaneously (through the skin). A nick is made in the skin surface, and the slender applicator is inserted through the skin and into the target tissue using imaging guidance, such as CT ultrasound, and/or fluoroscopy (moving X-ray). Once the doctor has determined that the applicator has been properly positioned into the target area, he/she will start the control system (generator). The generator will deliver microwave energy to the diseased tissue. The doctor will determine the appropriate energy level and length of time that the energy is applied, based on the size and shape of the diseased tissue area. Usually only a few minutes are required to ablate the targeted diseased tissue.
  • If there are several areas of tissue to be treated, the doctor may repeat this process for each area. Several areas of tissue can be coagulated during the same procedure.
  • Microwave ablation can also be delivered during a surgical procedure. Your doctor will discuss your post-operative care and outpatient follow-up with you, including follow-up imaging scans to check on your progress.

Is the microwave ablation procedure painful?

  • Your physician will administer medications, as needed, to minimize your pain, but the pain level can very depending on the patient. Please discuss pain and other potential complications (side effects) with your physician prior to the procedure.
  • These questions and answers are intended for informational purposes and should not be used to make a decision on how to treat your diseased soft tissue. You and your physician must make the decision regarding the best treatment for you.