Renal ablation destroys the tumor on the kidney using minimally invasive nephron-sparing techniques. The tumor is localized and treated with energy that kills the tumor cells while leaving the surrounding tissue intact and functioning. This results in preservation of the rest of the kidney while the tumor is destroyed.
The technology is relatively new and is currently only performed in select centers that have experience with ablative technologies. Short-term results have been promising and have provided a new surgical treatment option to patients that desire not to have the whole kidney removed. Currently, there are two main types of renal ablation:
Radiofrequency Ablation – This involves laparoscopic and/or radiographic localization of the kidney tumor, followed by delivery of heat via a small percutaneously placed needle. This allows heating of the tumor and ablation of the cancerous cells.
Cryoablation – This involves laparoscopic and/or radiographic localization of the kidney tumor, followed by freezing the tumor with percutaneously placed needles. This allows cooling of the tumor and ablation of the cancerous cells.
Both of these procedures are monitored in real time via temperature probes, visually and with the use of ultrasound. Recent experience shows that the procedures are safe and effective for treatment of renal tumors. Further long-term study is ongoing.