Understanding the nuances of microwave ablation for more accurate post-treatment assessment

Future Oncol. 2018 Jul;14(17):1755-1764. doi: 10.2217/fon-2017-0736. Epub 2018 Feb 14.


Microwave ablation (MWA) is a relatively new thermal modality for minimally invasive procedures compared with radiofrequency ablation. Although MWA and radiofrequency ablation are thermal modalities, their underlying physics and principles greatly differ. Consequently, it is imperative that clinicians be aware of how these differences impact realized ablation volumes to consistently ensure technical success and better patient outcomes. This paper will review the nuances specific to MWA technology (i.e., tissue properties, perfusion/heat sink effect, ablation assessment, imaging accuracy and tissue contraction) that are often overlooked based on familiarity with conventional thermal modalities to guide more accurate assessment of post-treatment MWA volumes.

Keywords: ablation assessment; heat sink effect; imaging accuracy; microwave ablation; microwave ablation devices; radiofrequency ablation; thermal ablation; tissue contraction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ablation Techniques / methods*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Microwaves / therapeutic use*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome