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Spine Tumor Ablation


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As a cancer progresses, it may spread, or metastasize, from the primary tumor site where it originated in the body to secondary sites including the spine. When this occurs, the cancer is described as metastatic. It is not uncommon to find multiple metastatic spine tumors due to higher life expectancy. In fact, it is estimated that metastatic spine tumors may occur in over 70% of people diagnosed with cancer.

When cancer metastasizes to the spine, existing bone is often destroyed, with soft tissue tumors growing in the place of new bone. As the tumor grows and bone is destroyed it results in pain, caused by irritation of spinal nerves and spinal instability. Metastatic spinal tumors are the most common type of malignant, or invasive, lesions in the spine.

A minimally invasive treatment offered to patients with painful spinal metastatic lesions is using heat produced by radiofrequency (RF) energy known as RF ablation. This can be performed before, during or after radiation and chemotherapy. Our interventional radiologists perform spine tumor ablation as part of a multidisciplinary team with oncologists and surgeons to ensure you receive the best care possible.

What to Expect

During the procedure, you will lie on your stomach. You may receive some sedation as well as local anesthetic around the spine bone that is damaged.

Your interventional radiologist will make a small incision above the vertebra. Using x-ray guidance, they will place a needle into the vertebra with the tumor. Small probes are inserted through that needle to precisely target the area of the tumor using x-ray guidance. RF energy is then applied using heat to destroy the tumor cells. Special temperature sensors provide your doctor with continuous feedback on the temperature levels for added safety. The device is removed once the tumor has been ablated. Sometimes, if the tumor has caused a fracture of the surrounding vertebrae, the doctor may also inject bone cement to stabilize the fracture through the same set of instruments. A small bandage covers the incision following the procedure.

Your doctor can treat multiple bones in the same procedure if necessary.

Altogether, the procedure takes one to two hours. After a short recovery at the hospital, you can go home the same day as your procedure. You’ll be able to go back to your normal activities within two days and should begin experiencing pain relief quickly.

Why Choose UHealth?

Expert care from highly trained interventional radiologists. Our interventional radiologists and radiology specialists are experts in a variety of minimally invasive procedures — everything from treatments to clear blocked blood vessels to advanced cancer therapies like NanoKnife®.

Leading-edge imaging care in South Florida. Our doctors are also researchers discovering new ways to improve diagnosis and treatment. That means you can get some of today’s most promising advancements through clinical trials. You benefit from the latest developments that are fast-tracked from the lab to the bedside.

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