What is Unilateral Ablation Therapy for the Reduction or Eradication of One or More Pulmonary Tumours: Overview, Benefits, and Expected Results
Unilateral ablation therapy is a form of treatment for one or more pulmonary tumours. During the procedure, a doctor uses thermal energy, either in the form of focused heat or cold, to remove or destroy the tumours. It is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure with minimal post-operative pain and a relatively short recovery period. This article will discuss the overview, benefits, and expected results of unilateral ablation therapy.
Overview of Unilateral Ablation Therapy
Unilateral ablation therapy is a minimally invasive procedure typically performed to treat one or more small pulmonary tumours in people with certain forms of cancer. The goal of the procedure is to reduce or eliminate the size of the tumours without having to perform a more invasive form of surgery. During the unilateral ablation therapy, a doctor uses thermal energy, either through focused heat or cold, to destroy the tumours.
The unilateral ablation therapy procedure is usually done on an outpatient basis, meaning the patient does not need to stay in the hospital overnight. Before the procedure, the patient will have a consultation with the doctor to discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure. The doctor will also discuss the expected results and any other treatment options.
Benefits of Unilateral Ablation Therapy
Unilateral ablation therapy offers several key benefits, including:
- Minimally Invasive – Compared to traditional surgery, unilateral ablation therapy is much less invasive. There is no need for incisions or general anaesthesia, reducing the risk of complications.
- Outpatient Procedure – Unilateral ablation therapy is usually done on an outpatient basis, allowing the patient to quickly return to everyday activities and reduce their overall recovery time.
- Minimal Pain – Because the procedure does not involve any incisions, patients experience minimal post-operative pain. This also reduces the need for pain medications.
- Relatively Low Risk – While there are still risks associated with the procedure, such as infection, they are generally low. Additionally, the risk of the procedure can be further reduced by working with a highly-experienced doctor.
Expected Results of Unilateral Ablation Therapy
The results of unilateral ablation therapy vary depending on the type, size, and location of the tumour(s). Generally, doctors aim to reduce or eliminate the size of the tumours, without having to perform a more invasive form of surgery.
When the procedure is successful, the size of the tumour(s) will be reduced or in most cases eliminated. In some cases, follow-up imaging scans may be necessary to monitor for any recurrence of the tumour(s).
Unilateral ablation therapy is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure used to reduce or eliminate one or more pulmonary tumours. The procedure uses thermal energy, either through focused heat or cold, to remove or destroy the tumours. The procedure offers several key benefits such as minimal pain and relatively low risk, and many patients experience successful results in reducing or eliminating the size of the tumours. It is important to consult with a highly-experienced doctor to understand the risks and benefits of the procedure and to ensure the best possible results.
Definition & Overview
Ablation therapy is a medical procedure that destroys (ablates) certain tissues in the body that exhibit abnormal behaviour or cause certain health conditions. For example, small tissues in heart muscles can cause abnormal rapid heart rhythms. The ablation of such tumours can provide symptoms relief and correct the condition.
Ablation therapy is minimally invasive and usually requires only local anaesthesia. However, general anaesthesia can be used for children as well as anxious adults. General anaesthesia is also recommended for patients with complex cardiac anatomy, congenital heart disease, or if the procedure is expected to last longer than usual.
Surgeons perform ablation therapy with the use of probes. These probes are inserted into the skin through a small puncture in the marked area. Flexible tubes are also used and inserted into the blood vessels in the area where abnormal tissues are found.
The identified abnormal tissues are destroyed with the use of radiofrequency or heat. Others are treated with cryoablation where abnormal cells are subjected to extreme cold temperature. Some surgeons use chemicals or lasers.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results?
Ablation therapy can be recommended for patients with benign or less invasive pulmonary tumours. The procedure comes with minimal risks and complications when compared to open surgical procedures.
Since the procedure is less invasive, patients experience faster recovery. The procedure spares nearby healthy tissues thereby increasing the patient’s chance to recover more quickly.
Patients are advised to talk to their surgeons to see if ablation therapy is the right therapy for them and weigh its benefits and risks.
How is the Procedure Performed?
The procedure is rather simple. For patients with pulmonary tumours, surgeons use a catheter guided by an electrode, which is inserted into the pierced skin near the target location. An electrode is a type of an electrical conductor that helps in the delivery of electrical current (in the case of radiofrequency or transcatheter ablation) to the cancer site. The heat is usually painless although some patients reported having some tingling sensation in the treated area. The anomalous tissues receiving such current will die, and the growth or biological activity in that area will stop. The process is similar to cauterising skin tags or warts only that the procedure is done in tissues located inside the body.
Surgeons require that the patient be motionless throughout the entire procedure. Immobility ensures that ablation catheters stay in place, and that the mapping of target tissues is as accurate as possible.
Depending on the area to be treated, the entire procedure can last between two and six hours. If there are more than one site to be treated, it may last longer. The procedure is performed in a hospital’s electrophysiology or cardiac catheterisation lab.
The punctured site where the catheter and electrode are inserted is applied with pressure in order to stop bleeding as soon as the procedure has been completed. Doctors and nurses will look for signs of bleeding or swelling and the patient’s vital signs are monitored carefully to make sure they are stable before the patient is allowed to be taken out of the surgery room.
To prevent blood clot formation in the ablated area, surgeons usually prescribe aspirin to be taken 2-4 weeks after the procedure.
Possible Risks and Complications
In terms of pain, cryoablation is observed to be less painful than radiofrequency ablation. The procedure may induce pericardial irritation or pain surrounding the surface of the heart, but it can be relieved by taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or over-the-counter drugs such as acetaminophen (paracetamol).
Because catheters are inserted into the blood vessels, these soft tissues can rupture and cause mild bleeding or in some cases, an infection.
In the case of radiofrequency ablation, the success rate is 90% with virtually no chance of complications. The patient can go back to work or resume normal daily activities a few days after the procedure. Some mild irritation in the treated area may be experienced while the treated tissue heals.
Elizabeth MC Ashley; BSc MB ChB FRCA FFICM; “Anaesthesia for Electrophysiology Procedures in the Cardiac Catheter Laboratory”; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/771059_6
American Heart Association; “Ablation for Arrhythmias”; http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/PreventionTreatmentofArrhythmia/Ablation-for-ArrhythmiasUCM301991_Article.jsp#.V-Sej5N94qI