Ablation for kidney cancer

Small tumors in the kidneys, can be treated with interventional radiology using extreme heat or cold to kill the cancer cells. We call this thermal ablation. The extreme temperature will vaporize the cancer cells. Your interventional radiologist will insert one or more needles into the tumor, guided by an ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan for imaging. He or she will insert the needle through the skin.

Cryoablation is an option for tumors that cannot be surgically removed. The treatment can also be used if your specialist considers it necessary to preserve the kidney, or if you have other conditions, like cardiovascular disease or lung problems, that may complicate surgery.

Heat-based ablation

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and microwave ablation (MWA) destroy the tumor using extreme heat. RFA uses energy from radio frequencies, while MWA uses microwaves. MWA reaches extreme temperatures faster than RFA. The method that is most suitable for you depends on the location of your tumor and your physician's preferences.

Cold-based ablation

During cryoablation, your tumor cells with be vaporized by extremely cold temperatures. Your body will clean up the dead cells afterward. This treatment is similar to the treatment for warts.

General or local anesthetic

You will receive an epidural for local anesthesia, and you will have the option to take a sedative that will put you to sleep. Using local anesthesia allows us to better adjust your pain treatment to your personal needs after the procedure. If you prefer, we can give you general anesthesia instead.

Possible complications

During treatment
During RFA for kidney cancer, you may experience blood in your urine. Most people will not need treatment for their complications.

After treatment
The most common and drastic complications of a kidney ablation are:

  • kidney function disorder
  • bleeding
  • infection
  • abscess under the midriff 
  • kidney abscess
  • fever

These symptoms will subside after 1 or 2 weeks.