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Microwave Ablation

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Specialists in Microwave Ablation

Information About the Field of Microwave Ablation

What Is Microwave Ablation?

Microwave ablation is a minimally invasive procedure for treating tumors and is used when a traditional therapy such as surgery or chemotherapy cannot be carried out. In microwave ablation, a small probe is guided through the blood vessels to the tumor. Once there, it generates great heat, which literally "boils" the tumor, but spares the rest of the organ.

When Is Microwave Ablation Used?

Microwave ablation is mostly used to treat the thyroid gland, liver, lung, and kidney tumors. Treatment is available for primary tumors that originated in the organ itself and secondary tumors (metastases), i.e., displaced tumor foci that originate from another organ. Suppose surgical intervention is not possible, for example, because the patient's general condition is too poor or because the cancer is located in an inaccessible area. In that case, microwave ablation offers a good alternative.

The Procedure for Microwave Ablation?

After the indication for microwave ablation has been confirmed, the patient comes to the clinic for a short in-patient stay. Before the actual treatment, the medical history is taken and detailed informing, and a preliminary examination is carried out, and the patient is given a mild sedative.

First, the doctor punctures the locally anesthetized skin. The probe is inserted under visual monitoring through the blood vessel system by imaging techniques, or, in the case of cancers close to the surface, under the skin and into the tumor. The probe is set into very rapid oscillations, which causes the temperature in the tissue to rise to 100 degrees Celsius. The tumor and any healthy tissue in its surrounding (as a safety zone, so to speak) are burned. This 15 to a 60-minute procedure is entirely painless for the patient. The puncture canal is closed, and the patient remains in hospital for a few days for observation. After four to six weeks, a follow-up examination is carried out.

Advantages and Risks of Microwave Ablation

Microwave ablation represents a gentler alternative to surgery. A general anesthetic with the associated risks is unnecessary, and the known risks of surgery are eliminated. Therefore, patients with severe concomitant diseases, e.g., the cardiovascular system, can also be treated. This treatment also offers the chance to remove inoperable tumors. The minimally invasive procedure also allows the preservation of more healthy tissue than a surgical intervention, which generally leads to improved quality of life.

But microwave ablation also carries certain risks. Fever and pain are among the most common side effects. The puncture canal may bleed or become inflamed. If the lung is treated, a so-called pneumothorax may occur, which means that air enters the gap between the lungs and their pleura and compresses one lung. The earliest possible detection and treatment of these complications make a short stay in the hospital necessary.