Liver ablation is a procedure used to treat liver tumours or lesions by destroying them using heat (microwave). 


This procedure is often considered for patients who are not candidates for surgery or who have small tumours in locations that are difficult to reach with traditional surgery. 


For some types of cancers, ablation offers equivalent outcomes to resection when the tumours are small in size and favourably located.


Liver ablation offers the advantage of shorter recovery times, reduced risk of complications, and preservation of healthy liver tissue.

Liver Ablation details


Microwave Ablation (MWA)
MWA uses microwaves to generate heat and destroy liver tumours. A needle-like probe is inserted into the tumour, and microwave energy is delivered to heat and ablate the tumour tissue. 


This can be done percutaneously (via the skin) thereby avoiding an operation entirely or is done via either open or laparoscopic/ robotic approaches. 


Ablation may often be used in conjunction with formal resection surgery to help clear the patient of all their liver tumours.


Risks and Complications
While liver ablation is generally considered safe, it may be associated with certain risks and complications such as:

  • Infection: Infection at the site of the procedure is possible but rare. Patients may be prescribed antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Damage to Surrounding Organs: There is a small risk of injury to nearby organs, such as the gallbladder, bile ducts, or intestines, during the ablation procedure.
  • Incomplete Ablation: In some cases, it may be difficult to completely destroy the tumour tissue, leading to incomplete ablation and the potential for tumour recurrence.
  • Liver Damage: Although liver ablation aims to preserve healthy liver tissue, there is a risk of damage to surrounding liver tissue during the procedure.


Recovery and Post-operative Care
After liver ablation, patients may experience some discomfort or pain at the site of the procedure, which can usually be managed with pain medication. 


Recovery times vary depending on the approach (percutaneous vs surgical) and extent of the ablation, but most patients can expect to resume normal activities within a few days to a week. 


During the recovery period, it is essential to follow post-operative care instructions provided by the healthcare team, which may include:

  • Rest and Activity Restrictions: Patients may be advised to avoid strenuous activities, heavy lifting, or driving for a certain period following the procedure.
  • Pain Management: Pain medications may be prescribed to manage any discomfort or pain after the procedure.
  • Monitoring: Patients may need to undergo regular follow-up appointments and imaging tests to monitor the effectiveness of the ablation and detect any signs of recurrence.


Follow-up Care
Follow-up care is an essential aspect of the management of liver ablation patients and may include:

  • Regular Imaging Tests: Patients will need to undergo periodic imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRI scans, to monitor the treated area for signs of tumour recurrence.
  • Blood Tests: Blood tests may be performed to assess liver function and monitor for any signs of liver damage or abnormalities.
  • Ongoing Monitoring: Patients will continue to be monitored by their healthcare team to ensure optimal recovery and to address any concerns or complications that may arise.
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