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Ablation is a minimally invasive technique that that destroys tumors without removing them. Ablation is often used for patients with a few small tumors when surgery is not a good option. This type of treatment may be done as an outpatient or require a brief overnight stay.  Visit Inova's Interventional Oncology website arrow

There are several different types of ablation:

  • Cryoablation
    Cryoablation (percutaneous) is a minimally invasive treatment option for patients whose tumors cannot be removed by surgery or are at high-risk for surgical complications. Cryoablation kills cancer cells by freezing them. A thin needle, called a cryoprobe, is inserted through the skin and into the tumor. The cryoprobe freezes tissue around it's tip to very cold temperatures, killing the tumor cells. The interventional radiologist uses imaging techniques such as CT or ultrasound to accurately guide the cryoprobe and spare healthy tissue. A tumor can usually be treated in one session, which usually takes a couple of hours and patients can usually go home the same day.


  • Microwave ablation
    Inova Fairfax Hospital was the first in Northern Virginia to use percutaneous microwave ablative technologies in the clinical setting. Microwave antennae are inserted into the target lesion under imaging guidance. The microwaves create a well-defined zone of thermal ablation around each antenna. Advantages of microwave ablation include less time to treat, more uniform ablation zones and less pain during and after the procedure. Most of these procedures are performed on an outpatient basis.


  • Radiofrequency ablation
    Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive treatment for cancer used when surgery is not a good option. This type of ablation kills cancer cells by heating and destroying them. Physicians insert a thin needle guided by (CT) or ultrasound through the skin and into the tumor. Energy similar to radio waves delivered through this needle heats and destroys the tumor. Patients are sedated and may go home the same day.