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Spinal Tumor Radiofrequency Ablation

Rapid and lasting pain relief

The University of Kansas Cancer Center and The University of Kansas Health System are the only institutions in the region providing this groundbreaking therapy for pain relief caused from metastatic spinal tumors. The STAR Tumor Ablation procedure is used to relieve pain from cancers that have spread to the spine from other areas like the breast, prostate, lung or kidney. Using a minimally invasive, non-surgical approach, a probe is inserted into the spinal tumor under local anesthesia. The probe emits heat that shrinks or destroys the tumor resulting in rapid, lasting pain relief. The procedure can be used alone or in conjunction with other cancer therapies and allows patients pain-free mobility and improved quality of life as they undergo treatment of their primary cancer.

How it works

Physicians shrink or destroy spinal tumors using a flexible, navigational probe that emits heat generated by radiofrequency energy. When the tumor shrinks or is destroyed, it no longer presses against the nerves which cause pain or push against fractures that may exist as a result of the tumor. Often, patients have the STAR procedure before any other cancer treatments are started to enable them to have a more comfortable radiation, chemotherapy, or surgical treatment experience.

The procedure

The spinal radiofrequency procedure is performed in a single treatment, often lasting less than 90 minutes.

Patients receive local anesthesia and conscious sedation before the procedure. The physician uses radiography guidance to place the probe through the incision and into the tumor. The probe is navigated to the center of the tumor and the heat is applied. The heat is controlled precisely by the STAR system for accurate treatment of the tumor without damaging surrounding healthy tissue or bone.

Once the tumor is treated, the space that remains may be filled with medical-grade cement before the probe is removed. The cement helps stabilize the spine and prevent compression fractures around the tumor space.

Within 24-48 hours, the procedure allows patients who were wracked with pain and unable to move or walk the ability to move easily and walk without pain again. Studies show sustained pain relief at 6 months following the procedure. With their pain eased, patients can go on to receive uninterrupted chemotherapy or radiation treatment for their primary cancer.

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