Liver Ablation

What is it?

Why is it done?

  • Concept is to use focal heat or occasionally cold temperatures to kill (ablate) the cancer cells Goal is to create an ablation margin around the tumor, ensuring no cancer cells are left behind Ideal method for treating lesions measuring less than 3 cm and for typically no more than 3-4 individual lesions

Types of ablative therapies

  • RFA (radiofrequency ablation)
  • MWA (Microwave)
  • Cryoablation
  • IRE(irreversible electroporation)

Liver Ablation Procedure

  • Typically performed under CT and/or Ultrasound Guidance using general anesthesia or conscious sedation
  • Total procedure time is typically 2 hrs
  • Actual ablation (burn) time is usually only a few minutes depending on size and number of lesions


  • Patients are typically discharged a few hours after the procedure
  • OTC pain medicines, occasionally stronger narcotics and typically low dose steroids are used for several days
  • Can experience post ablation syndrome including letheragy, malaise, low grade fever, usually only lasting 24-48hrs and typically starting a few days after the procedure

Follow Up

  • Follow up imaging is obtained at 1 month, typically a multiphase CT scan of the liver with and without contrast
  • Seen in clinic following imaging to review the study and to discuss next steps.
  • Small percentage (typically less than 3%) a touch up ablation is needed to treat any areas of residual disease
  • Continued follow up imaging, over the next 5 years

If you have know liver cancer or metastatic cancer to liver and would like to be evaluated for potential liver directed therapies, please book an appointment.