IS Case 268: Microwave ablation of lung cancer

Devang Butani, MD

Imaging Sciences URMC 2009
Publication Date: 2009-07-29


Patient is a 72-year-old female with a lung mass.


There is a 2.5 cm lung nodule in the posterior aspect of the left lung.


Microwave ablation of lung cancer


Microwave ablation is a relatively new thermal modality for treatment of soft tissue lesions. The advantages over radiofrequency ablation (RFA), the mainstay of thermal treatment, is less heat sink effect, higher intratumoral temperatures and a relative user controlled area of treatment. There is no current being passed through the patient, as with RFA, eliminating the risk of thermal burns from grounding pads used in RFA. Treatment times vary from 5 to 15 minutes and synergistic effects affect the size of the treatment area when multiple probes are used.

In this case, we used a single electrode which provides a 4x3 cm area (approximately). The central radiolucent core must be placed centrally within the tumor for optimal results. Major complications are the same as RFA, infection, hemorrhage and pneumothorax.


  1. Wolf FJ, Grand DJ, Machan JT, et al. Microwave ablation of lung malignancies: effectiveness, CT findings, and safety in 50 patients. Radiology. 2008 Jun;247(3):871-9. Epub 2008 Mar 27. PMID: 18372457 [PubMed]

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