Ablation is a treatment that burns liver tumours. It is the preferred option for patients with a few small tumours and when surgery is not a good option due to either poor health or reduced liver function. Ablation is best used for tumours no larger than 3 cm. For slightly larger tumours, it may be used along with embolisation. As ablation often destroys some of the normal tissue surrounding the tumour as well, it is not suggested for the treatment of tumours near major blood vessels, the diaphragm or major bile ducts.
In this procedure, a needle-like probe is inserted into the tumour through the skin. The probe is guided into place with the help of an ultrasound or CT scan. There are various methods of ablation.
- Radiofrequency ablation: It uses high-energy radio waves to heat the tumour and destroy the cancer cells.
- Microwave ablation: It uses the energy from electromagnetic waves to heat and destroy the cancer cells.
- Cryoablation: It uses very cold gases to freeze the tumour and cause the cancer cells to die.
- Alcohol ablation: In this procedure, concentrated alcohol is injected directly into the tumour to damage cancer cells.