Radiofrequency ablation used to treat cancer pain for patients

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J David Prologo

Interventional radiologists at the Emory Johns Creek Hospitals (EJCH), Johns Creek, USA, are using radiofrequency ablation to reduce pain for cancer patients.

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure in which doctors use image guidance to ablate or cauterise tumours that have spread to the spine in cancer patients.

J David Prologo, director of Interventional Radiology Services at EJCH, and assistant professor in the Emory Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, says he uses fluoroscopy (live x-ray) to properly determine where to place the needle to target the pain.

“An electrical current is used to generate heat and destroy the cancer cells,” says Prologo, who is also a member of Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute. “Then, cement is injected to stabilise the bone fragments.”

Historically, cancer patients who have spinal tumours have had very limited options and relied on opioids for pain relief.

The treatment provides patients benefits including: greater range of motion, improved quality of life, shorter recovery time and longer-lasting pain relief.

Spine radiofrequency ablation is an outpatient procedure and allows patients to resume activities almost immediately.

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