Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)/Irreversible Electroporation (IRE)

Q: How long will the procedure take?
A: Plan to spend the entire day and possibly stay overnight, if necessary. You will be admitted (30 min); go to the pre-procedural prep area (Clinical Support Unit) for a brief history and physical exam, IV fluids, and pre-procedure meds (60-90 min); go to Pre-Op Anesthesia for assessment by the Anesthesia team (60 min); go to the CT or IR suite for the procedure, which will be done under general anesthesia (60-120 min); go to Post-Anesthesia Care Unit to recover and wake up (60 min), and back to the CSU or an inpatient room, if necessary.

Q: Will the procedure hurt?
A: Not usually. The general anesthetic is meant to eliminate procedural pain and movement, and most patients have little if any pain in the recovery phase. If narcotic pain medication is needed, you may stay overnight.

Q: Is the procedure safe?
A: Yes. The chance of bleeding so much that you will require a blood transfusion or another procedure to stop the bleeding is about 2%. The risk of a collapsed lung in some patients is about 5-10%. This will be discussed with you during your pre-procedural consultation with the interventional radiologist.

Q: How much radiation is involved?
A: It varies depending on the number and location of the tumors to be treated. Generally, the radiation dose used to guide the procedure is less than or equal to that of one routine CT scan of the same part of the body.

Q: Will I be put to sleep?
A: Yes.

Q: Should I take my daily medications?
A: Take the medication that you routinely take every morning on the morning of your biopsy with a sip of water only. If you take insulin every morning, take only half of your usual morning dose. If you take metformin for diabetes, you should stop it 24 hours before and for 48 hours after the procedure. If you take anticoagulation medications like Coumadin, aspirin, Plavix, or Aggrenox, then you should stop taking them 5 days before the biopsy and re-start them the day after your procedure.

Q: When will I receive the results?
A: We usually schedule a follow-up imaging study such as CT, MRI, or PET/CT, one month after the procedure to see if it was successful. We try to schedule a brief follow-up appointment on the day of the follow-up scan so that you will know the results and what additional procedure or follow-up is recommended.

Q: What should I watch for when I return home?
A: Sometimes there is pain or bleeding, depending on where the treatment was done. You will receive a prescription for pain medication if necessary before discharge after your procedure.

Q: Will my insurance company cover the cost of the procedure?
A: Most likely, yes. Our office will confirm your coverage once you’ve agreed to proceed with the procedure after your initial consultation with the interventional radiologist.