Researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, USA, have published a retrospective review of the use of microwave ablation in the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR). The review describes percutaneous (through the skin) microwave ablation as a promising treatment for patients with early stage (T1) renal tumours. However, more research into the selection of patients due to risk is needed because microwave ablation may cause major bleeding and genitourinary-tract complications.

The researchers suggest that the overall risk of serious complication is lower than 5%, and mortality rates are lower than those associated with surgery. Complications depend on the size and location of the tumour. In addition, microwave ablation is “equally effective” compared with cryoablation or radiofrequency ablation.

The researchers cautioned that “Even for practitioners who have considerable experience using other ablation modalities, a learning curve exists in appreciating the potential complications from renal [microwave ablation]……….we encourage prudence in its application to central renal masses.”

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