Radiofrequency Ablation of Hepatic Lesions: A Review

Venkataramu N. Krishnamurthy, MD; V. Javier Casillas, MD; Lina Latorre, MD


Appl Radiol. 2003;32(10) 

In This Article

Historical Perspective

The effect of RF waves was first reported by d'Arsonval in 1891.[16] He described heating of tissue when the RF waves pass through living tissue. This led to the development of medical diathermy and surgical electrocautery probes in the 1990s.[17] The electrocautery probe works by desiccation and charring of the tissue at the point of contact when alternating current passes through the patient between the cautery probe and a large grounding pad applied usually to the thigh of the patient. Radiofrequency ablation technique is based on this principle. Physical principle of tissue interaction with RF waves was first described by Organ,[18] who demonstrated that alternating current causes agitation of ions in the living tissue that results in frictional heat and thermal injury.

Radiofrequency ablation in the liver was first conceptualized by McGahan et al[19] and Rossie et al[20] in the 1990s. Using alternating current, a grounding pad, and a stock needle insulated to the distal tip (monopolar electrode) and inserted percutaneously, they produced focal thermal ablation at the needle tip deep within the liver. They proposed that RF ablation could be an effective treatment for small hepatic tumors.