Submitted by Vikram Dravid, MD
Until recently, options were limited for palliative treatment of painful, bony spinal tumors. Since last year, Bryn Mawr Hospital has been one of the first in the region to offer a minimally invasive, hospital-based procedure — targeted radiofrequency ablation (t-RFA) – to reduce pain for metastatic patients with this type of tumor, utilizing a system designed specifically for spinal tumors. This Interventional Radiology procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis at any MLH hospital.
Technically similar to kyphoplasty, the t-RFA procedure targets painful vertebral tumors, even in the absence of a compression fracture.
Metastatic disease in the spine or skeleton affects many cancer patients today, including up to 85% of advanced patients with the three most common types of cancer: breast, prostate, and lung. The spine is the most common site for bone metastasis, with multiple vertebral levels commonly affected. The advantage of t-RFA is that it enables patients to continue with systemic treatment of their primary cancer, without interruption. Patients may, in fact, be able to endure chemotherapy or radiation therapy more readily once their pain is alleviated.