Liver Ablation

What is it?

How is it treated?

  • 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

Several types of ablative therapies available:

  • 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.