What equipment is needed to perform percutaneous radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of liver tumors?

Updated: Mar 30, 2021
  • Author: Badar Bin Bilal Shafi, MBBS, MRCP, FRCR, CCT, EBIR; Chief Editor: Kurt E Roberts, MD  more...
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The imaging equipment needed for radiofrequency ablation (RFA) depends on the modality used. It can include the equipment necessary for ultrasonography (US), computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

RFA equipment itself has three main components, as follows:

  • Needle electrodes
  • Electrical generator
  • Grounding pads

The needle electrodes are available in two forms. The first is a simple straight needle (see the first image below). The second is a straight needle containing multiple curved, retractable electrodes that are kept inside the needle until its tip is positioned within a tumor. Once this needle is properly positioned, a plunger on the hub of the needle is advanced so that the electrodes extend from the needle tip; when fully extended, the electrodes resemble an open umbrella (see the second image below).

Electrodes for radiofrequency ablation. Electrodes for radiofrequency ablation.
Umbrella-type electrodes for radiofrequency ablati Umbrella-type electrodes for radiofrequency ablation.

The radiofrequency (RF) generator is connected by insulated wires to the needle electrodes and to grounding pads that are placed on the patient's thighs. The generator produces alternating electrical current in the range of RF waves.

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