Percutaneous Thermal Ablation

Percutaneous Thermal Ablation is a procedure that uses an energy source (heat, cold or chemical) to destroy cancerous tissue in a target organ.  “Percutaneous” means “through the skin,” “Thermal” means “energy” and “Ablation” means “to terminate or reroute a faulty pathway,” in this case the blood supply to the cancerous tissue.

The three forms of ablations our providers specialize in are:

  • Microwave or MWA (Heat)
  • Cryo (Cold)
  • Radiofrequency or RFA (Radiowaves)

Percutaneous Thermal Ablation involves advancing a special type of needle directly into a tumor within the target organ with the assistance of Ultrasound, CT scan and/or X-ray guidance. The needle is used to deliver an energy source to the tumor in order to destroy it while minimizing damage in the target organ.

This is a minimally-invasive procedure, performed in our comfortable, office-based laboratory, which means that there is no need to take time off work or go to a hospital. Typically,  the procedure is done using minimal sedation, however, some are performed with general anesthesia. There is usually no need for recovery time and patients walk out of our office afterwards.


For some forms of cancer – small renal cell carcinoma, colon cancer in the liver or hepatocellular carcinoma – this is as effective as surgically removing the tumor and the procedure is lower risk, less invasive with little or no recovery time.For others, it can be performed in conjunction with other treatment methods, such as embolization, chemotherapy, radiation, to augment treatment effectiveness.

  • What type of cancer can Percutaneous Thermal Ablation treat?

    This method of treatment can be used for essentially any form of cancer. Determinations are made on location, number, metastatic sites and typically a case by case basis, with CT or MRI needed to assist with proper diagnosis. Most commonly performed in the liver, kidneys, and bone.