What is liver ablation surgery?
Liver ablation surgery is a procedure that destroys liver tumors without surgically removing them. The technique can be used in people with:
- Early-stage liver cancer
- Primary liver tumor that cannot be operated
- Poor general health and metastatic growths
- Multiple small tumors waiting for liver transplantation
- Reduced liver function
- Liver tumors that are metastatic (spread to other organs), who are not fit for surgery
Ablation may be avoided if:
- There are multiple and/or large tumors.
- Tumors near important structures like major blood vessels, the diaphragm or major bile ducts. Ablation is not a good choice in such cases as it often destroys some of the normal tissue around the tumor.
Although ablation techniques are less likely to cure cancer than surgery, they can be helpful for people who are unfit for major surgery. Liver ablation treatments may also sometimes be used in patients waiting for a liver transplant.
Tumors less than 3 cm across (a little over an inch) are most suitable for treatment by ablation. If the tumor is slightly larger (1-2 inches, or 3-5 cm across), ablation may be used along with embolization (surgically blocking the blood supply to the tumor).
Depending upon the technique used to destroy the tumor cells, the various ablation techniques can be categorized as:
- Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses high-energy radio waves to destroy the tumor.
- Microwave ablation (MWA) uses the energy from electromagnetic waves to heat and destroys the tumor.
- Cryoablation (cryotherapy) destroys a tumor by freezing it.
- Ethanol (alcohol) ablation destroys tumors by injecting concentrated alcohol directly into them.
Is liver ablation a major surgery?
Liver ablation is not a major surgery. For this surgery, you may need to stay a few hours in a hospital. Usually, ablation of liver tumors can be done without open surgery (a large incision). A needle or probe is inserted into the tumor through the skin (percutaneous ablation of liver tumor). Rarely, however, to be certain the treatment is aimed at the right place, the ablation may be done under general anesthesia. Some cases may need a surgical incision to remove the part of the liver containing the tumor (partial hepatectomy).
What is radiofrequency ablation of liver tumors?
Radiofrequency ablation of liver tumors is one of the commonest ablation methods for small tumors of the liver. In this technique, high-energy radio waves are used to destroy the tumor cells. The procedure involves inserting a thin, needlelike probe into the tumor through the skin (percutaneously). The needle is guided to the tumor under image guidance (ultrasound or CT scan). This is followed by passing high-frequency current through the tip of the probe to heat the tumor and destroy the cancer cells. This procedure is an accurate, quick and cost-effective method for managing tumors in the liver.
What are the side effects of percutaneous radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of liver tumors?
Several studies report that RFA is a relatively low-risk procedure with fewer complications. The possible side effects of RFA include:
- Abdominal pain
- Shoulder pain
- Cholecystitis (gall bladder inflammation)
- Damage to the bile ducts
- Damage to the bowel
- Hemoperitoneum (collection of blood in the peritoneal cavity- the space between your abdominal organs and inner abdominal wall)
- Pneumothorax (presence of air in the space between the lungs and the chest wall)
- Hemothorax (abnormal collection of blood in the chest)
- Hydrothorax (abnormal collection of watery fluid in the chest)
- Pleural effusion (collection of pus between the lungs and their covering [pleura])
- Ascites (abnormal collection of fluid inside the abdomen)
- Blood clot formation
- Liver abscess (collection of pus in the liver)
- Needle-tract seeding (spillage and growth of cancer cells along the path of the ablation needle)
- Opdivo Could Boost Outcomes for People Battling Hodgkin Lymphoma
- More U.S. Kids, Teens Are Getting Weight-Loss Surgeries
- Could a Nitroglycerin Patch Ease Hot Flashes?
- One Form of Menopause Hormone Therapy Might Raise Blood Pressure
- Targeted Drug May Lower Odds for Breast Cancer's Return in Some Patients
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Is Radiofrequency Ablation of Liver Tumors Related Articles
Cirrhosis (Liver)Cirrhosis of the liver refers to a disease in which normal liver cells are replaced by scar tissue caused by alcohol and viral hepatitis B and C. This disease leads to abnormalities in the liver's ability to handle toxins and blood flow, causing internal bleeding, kidney failure, mental confusion, coma, body fluid accumulation, and frequent infections.
Symptoms include yellowing of the skin (jaundice), itching, and fatigue.
The prognosis is good for some people with cirrhosis of the liver, and the survival can be up to 12 years; however the life expectancy is about 6 months to 2 years for people with severe cirrhosis with major complications.
Drug-Induced Liver DiseaseDrug-induced liver diseases are diseases of the liver that are caused by physician-prescribed medications, OTC medications, vitamins, hormones, herbs, illicit (recreational) drugs, and environmental toxins. Read about the signs and symptoms of drug-induced liver disease like hepatitis (inflammation of the liver cells), liver disease treatment, and types.
Nonalcoholic and Alcoholic Fatty Liver DiseaseYou can treat fatty liver disease with diet and exercise. Learn the signs and symptoms of fatty liver disease, whether it is alcoholic or nonalcoholic in origin. Find out what causes fatty liver disease, along with remedies and prevention tips.
Liver QuizDo you know the symptoms of liver disease? What is hepatitis? Take this quiz to learn about your liver and how to keep it healthy.
14 Best and Worst Foods for Your LiverGet some simple diet tips to keep your liver healthy, including the best veggies to keep disease away and some snacks you'll want to avoid.
Liver Damage CausesAlcohol and acetaminophen are well-known liver dangers, but what else can be harmful? WebMD says some of them may surprise you.
How Long Can You Live With Liver Cancer?The overall survival rate of liver cancer patients is low, due to other underlying medical conditions, such as cirrhosis. Generally, a five-year survival rate for all stages of liver cancer is only 15%, but it can vary depending on the extent of cancer spread.
Liver (Anatomy and Function)The liver is the largest gland and organ in the body. There are a variety of liver diseases caused by liver inflammation, scarring of the liver, infection of the liver, gallstones, cancer, toxins, genetic diseases, and blood flow problems. Symptoms of liver disease generally do not occur until the liver disease is advanced. Some symptoms of liver disease include jaundice, nausea and vomiting, easy bruising, bleeding excessively, fatigue, weakness, weight loss, shortness of breath, leg swelling, impotence, and confusion. Treatment of diseases of the liver depends on the cause.
Liver BiopsyLiver biopsy is a procedure used to remove a small piece of liver tissue for examination for signs of disease or damage to the liver. Preparation for liver biopsy includes discontinuing certain medications. The techniques used to perform liver biopsy include percutaneous liver biopsy, transvenous liver biopsy, and laparoscopic liver biopsy. Recovery from liver biopsy are generally one to two days. Certain risks are associated with liver biopsy.
Liver Blood TestsAn initial step in detecting liver damage is a simple blood test to determine the presence of certain liver enzymes in the blood. Under normal circumstances, these enzymes reside within the cells of the liver. But when the liver is injured, these enzymes are spilled into the blood stream, and can lead to diseases like fatty liver, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hepatitis. Several medications also can increase liver enzyme test results.
Liver CancerLiver cancer is cancer of the liver cells (hepatocellular carcinoma) or of the ducts in the liver (cholangiocarcinoma). Liver cancer often arises due to liver damage, cirrhosis (scarring) caused by alcohol use/abuse, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C. Liver cancer may not cause any symptoms. Liver cancer is diagnosed with blood tests, imaging tests, and a liver biopsy. Treatment for liver cancer may include surgery, ablation, embolization, radiation, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.
Liver DiseaseLiver disease can be cause by a variety of things including infection (hepatitis), diseases, for example, gallstones, high cholesterol or triglycerides, blood flow obstruction to the liver, and toxins (medications and chemicals). Symptoms of liver disease depends upon the cause and may include nausea, vomiting, upper right abdominal pain, and jaundice. Treatment depends upon the cause of the liver disease.
Liver Disease QuizWhat is liver disease? Take the Liver Disease Quiz and test your knowledge about this organ and its function.
Liver PictureFront View of the Liver. The liver is a large, meaty organ that sits on the right side of the belly. See a picture of the Liver and learn more about the health topic.
What Is Liver Resection?Liver resection is a surgical procedure in which a portion of the liver is removed. The operation is generally performed to remove various types of tumors that are located in the liver. The goal of liver resection is to remove the tumor(s) and the surrounding liver tissue without leaving any tumor tissue behind.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) of the LiverRadiofrequency ablation (RFA) of the liver is a technique used to treat liver cancer. RFA uses imagine procedures like CT scan, ultrasound, and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to guide the RFA probe into the area of the tumor. There are different ways to perform radiofrequency ablation. Side effects of radiofrequency ablation of the liver are pain after the procedure, injury to the bowel, and inflammation of the gallbladder. The procedure lasts approximately 10-30 minutes.