Percutaneous microwave ablation uses thin needle-like electrodes that are passed through the skin (percutaneous) into the tumour to kill the cancer cells with microwaves. This is usually done under the guidance of ultrasound imaging.

During this observational study the short- and long-term outcomes of 113 patients who had microwave ablation for small renal masses (stage T1a or T1b) were reported. Most patients stayed in hospital for 1 day and longer ablation procedures were associated with more complications after the procedure. After an average follow-up of 12 months, the cancer returned in less than 1% of patients and spread in less than 2% of patients.

Microwave ablation is still an experimental procedure but could be used in the management of small renal masses as a safe and effective treatment method. However, further studies are needed to look at the patients who would benefit the most from this procedure.

Read more in Practice Update here