Radiologists at Emory Johns Creek Hospital are using a unique approach called radiofrequency ablation to reduce pain for cancer patients with spinal tumors.
Dr. J. David Prologo, director of Interventional Radiology Services at Emory Johns Creek and an assistant professor in the Emory University’s Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, said radiofrequency ablation, or RFA, is just now coming into its own to treat cancerous tumors.
He said RFA provides another option for cancer patients who have spinal tumors and depended on prescribed opioids medication for pain relief.
Until recently, there were no good options or similar technology for these lesions. Patients would just go to radiation which, if it worked, would take patients weeks to find relief, Prologo said.
Using RFA treatment for cancer tumors located at the spine is new, Prologo said. As the name indicates, radiofrequency ablation uses high radio frequencies to ablate, or cauterize, tumors that have spread to the spine in cancer patients. RFA has already been used to successfully treat pain caused by tumors in the kidney, breast, lung, melanoma and colon cancers.
Prologo described RFA treatment as a minimally invasive procedure. The RFA treatment is delivered through a needle probe. Prologo said he uses fluoroscope, or live x-ray, to determine where to place the needle to target the pain.
“An electrical current is used to generate heat and destroy the cancer cells,” he said. “Then, cement is injected to stabilize the bone fragments.”
Patients can typically resume their daily activities almost immediately after treatment. Some of the benefits RFA includes providing patients a greater range of motion, improved quality of life, shorter recovery time and longer-lasting pain relief.
Spine RFA is an outpatient procedure and allows patients to resume activities almost immediately, Prologo said.
For more information on RFA treatment, go to www.radiology.emory.edu or call 404-778-4747.