Spinal Tumor Ablation
Spinal Tumor Ablation
If you have pain from a metastatic spinal tumor, your doctor may recommend surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or narcotics. When these treatments fail to provide relief or are not suitable for your case, minimally invasive spinal tumor ablation can help. At Vascular & Interventional Partners in Scottsdale, AZ, we treat pain caused by metastatic cancer with minimally invasive outpatient procedures such as spinal tumor ablation.
What Is Spinal Tumor Ablation?
Spinal tumor ablation, also called radiofrequency ablation, is a minimally invasive palliative procedure used in the treatment of back pain caused by metastatic spinal tumors.
When cancer spreads to the spine, it destroys bone, causes spinal instability, and puts pressure on surrounding nerves. This often leads to debilitating pain in the back and beyond. Doctors usually treat this type of pain with surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or pain medication to improve quality of life. But these approaches do not always work or take a long time and, in some patients, may not be an option. That is when spinal tumor ablation comes into play.
Spinal tumor ablation is an image-guided procedure usually performed in an interventional radiology clinic. During the procedure, doctors use X-ray image guidance to deliver small probes into the vertebra within the tumor. Once the probe is in place, it emits radiofrequency energy, which generates heat inside the tumor and causes tumor cell death. The tumor then shrinks, relieving pain.
Doctors will combine spinal tumor ablation with Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty to stabilize any existing fractures caused by the tumor and replace the tumor tissue that they just treated.
Benefits of Spinal Tumor Ablation
The main and most obvious benefit of spinal tumor ablation is pain relief. Patients with cancer that has spread to the spinal column often deal with debilitating pain that can be successfully treated with spinal tumor ablation. But spinal tumor ablation has additional benefits:
- Spinal tumor ablation is minimally invasive with rapid pain relief.
- The procedure can help patients with high-risk tumors near the spinal cord and severe pain live a better quality of life. Eligible candidates include individuals that have reached their radiation dose limit.
- It is highly compatible and improves therapeutic effect with most other cancer treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy.
- Spinal tumor ablation can be performed on an outpatient basis so patients are free to go home a few hours after treatment.
- The procedure provides rapid (frequently same day) and long-lasting (at least six months) pain relief.
Why Choose Vascular & Interventional Partners?
At Vascular & Interventional Partners in Scottsdale, AZ, we understand that cancer patients need a multidisciplinary approach to get the best care. That is why our interventional radiologists perform spinal tumor ablations as part of a multidisciplinary team that consists of surgeons, oncologists, and clinical nurse specialists, among others. Our group includes seven leading interventional radiologists as well as physician assistants, nurses, and technicians who are dedicated to all our cancer patients.
As a leading interventional radiology division in Arizona, we have treated countless cases of cancer pain using minimally invasive procedures. We are board-certified by the American Board of Radiology and are also members of many professional organizations, including the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) and the Outpatient Endovascular and Interventional Society (OEIS).
At our private clinic, you will not have to wait months to get treated and will have a more personalized experience with our doctors. To make your stay at Vascular and Interventional Partners comfortable and enjoyable, we also offer curbside drop-offs and pick-ups as well as concierge service.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is spinal radiofrequency ablation considered surgery?
In short, no. Radiofrequency tumor ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that does not involve excisions or general anesthesia like most types of cancer surgery. Instead, your doctor makes a small nick in the skin to gain access to the tumor and treat it with radiofrequency energy.
Am I a good candidate for spinal tumor ablation?
If you are experiencing pain due to a metastatic spinal tumor but are unable to undergo surgery, you may be a good candidate for spinal tumor ablation. Your cancer team may also recommend this treatment if other approaches have failed to provide any relief.
Does spinal tumor ablation work?
Spinal tumor ablation is proven to be effective in providing pain relief to patients with spinal tumors. Studies have found that it can relieve pain for up to six months, especially when combined with other treatments. Early studies have found that nine out of 10 treated patients reported feeling less pain and that the level of pain reduction was almost 75 percent.
Is spinal tumor ablation safe?
Spinal tumor ablation is safe, especially compared to open surgery. It is a minimally invasive procedure performed under local anesthesia and without the need for excisions. Even for cancer patients receiving other treatments, this procedure is proven to be highly safe. However, there is still a small but possible risk of bleeding, superficial infections, allergic reactions to the anesthetic, and damage to adjacent tissues.
What can I expect during spinal tumor ablation?
You will lie face-down on a padded table and receive IV sedation and anesthesia around the tumor area. An interventional radiologist will make a small cut above the affected vertebra and guide a thin needle to the tumor using real-time X-ray imaging. They will insert small probes into the tumor and apply radiofrequency energy to heat the tumor. Once the tumor has been ablated, the probes are removed, and your doctor puts a bandage over the incision. In some cases, they may also perform vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty during the same procedure.
How long will the effects last?
You can expect to be pain-free for up to six months or even longer after receiving this treatment. The great majority of treated patients notice significant pain relief, especially when spinal tumor ablation is combined with other treatments.
What if spinal tumor ablation does not work?
If this procedure has also failed to provide adequate pain relief, we may repeat the procedure until the tumor shrinks in size and stops pressing surrounding nerves.