Local Ablation and Embolization

A doctor discusses local ablation and embolization treatment options with patient who cannot have liver surgery.

Local Ablation and Embolization

Who should consider local ablation and embolization?

How does ablation or embolization work?

What is the duration of treatment?

How effective is local ablation and embolization treatment?

Are there any side effects?

Is there anyone who should not have this treatment?

How much does local ablation and embolization treatment cost?


Local Ablation and Embolization

Local Ablation and Embolization are common local treatment alternatives for patients unable to have liver surgery.


Who should consider ablation or embolization?

Patients with no more than a few small tumors who are ineligible for surgery should consider local ablation or embolization. Additionally, these treatments may be used in patients awaiting transplant.


How does local ablation or embolization work?

Ablation acts to destroy liver tumors without removing the tumors. The process may involve the use of high-energy radio waves, microwaves , cryosurgical methods (freezing), or concentrated alcohol injections. Embolization is the process of injecting a substance to block or limit blood flow to cancerous cells. This method is often used for tumors larger than 5 centimeters in diameter. There are three types of embolization: TAE, TACE, and radioembolization. TAE (Arterial/ Trans-arterial embolization) uses a tube (catheter) inserted into the hepatic artery to inject tiny bits of material into the artery to block it off. TACE (chemoembolization/ trans-arterial chemoembolization) is a combination of chemotherapy and embolization. Radioembolization is a combination of radiation and embolization.


What is the duration of treatment?

Treatment is typically provided on an outpatient basis and without the need for a hospital stay, although occasionally patients may require an overnight stay. Ongoing medical visits will precede the treatment, and follow-up visits should be expected.


How effective is the ablation or embolization treatment?

This treatment is not as successful as surgery, but it is helpful to many patients unable to have surgery or awaiting liver transplantation.


Are there any side effects?

Side effects of ablation or embolization may include: abdominal pain, liver infection, and bleeding in the chest cavity or abdomen. Serious complications are not common, but they are possible.


Is there anyone who should not have the ablation or embolization treatment?

This treatment is not recommended for all patients with liver disease caused by cirrhosis or hepatitis. Typically this treatment is not suitable for patients with large tumors, with the exception of cyrosurgery.


How much does ablation or embolization treatment cost?

Insurance sometimes covers at least a portion of this treatment. Contact your healthcare provider for information regarding your exact policy. Costs for these treatments without insurance fall approximately within the $10,000-20,000 range.

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