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Targeted Radiofrequency (t-RFA) Tumor Ablation of Spinal Tumors

Center for Diagnostic Imaging (CDI) in Puget Sound is now able to provide palliative relief of painful vertebral body tumors in a single, image-guided, percutaneous RF ablation procedure.

Targeted RF ablation therapy at CDI is performed by Dr. James Schumacher, using a small device that he guides into the vertebra to precisely target and deliver a radio frequency energy that heats and destroys the tumor. 

Where indicated, bone access can be used for a subsequent vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty procedure to treat pathological fractures.

Because this procedure uses radiofrequency energy instead of radiation in a localized procedure, your patients may continue to receive chemotherapy treatments for their primary cancer. It can also be used with patients who have reached their radiation dose limit or those with radio-resistant tumors.

RF Tumor Ablation is an effective treatment option for people who:

  • Have painful metastatic spinal tumors and are looking for rapid and lasting relief
  • Want pain relief without interrupting chemotherapy or other systemic treatments
  • Need a non-radiation treatment option

  • We will contact you prior to your appointment to review medications you are currently taking, your medical history, potential risks and answer any of your questions.
  • Contact your provider before you stop taking any medication.
  • If you have films, reports or CD-ROMs of any MRI, CT or X-rays you have already had, please bring them to the appointment.
  • The use of sedation during your procedure is at the radiologist's discretion. If prescribed, detailed instructions will be given to you.
  • If sedated, you will need someone to drive you home and stay with you post-procedure due to the effects of the medications.
  • Women should always inform their provider or X-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant or if they are breast-feeding.
  • Risks and post-procedures instructions will be discussed with you prior to your procedure. They will be dependent on your unique case and condition. 
  • Overall, you should plan on approximately one and a half hours of your time for this procedure from check-in until you leave the clinic.
  • Using X-ray guidance, our specialized radiologist will insert a thin needle and inject contrast solution. The contrast solution is designed to highlight your anatomy to make sure the tumor is precisely targeted.
  • A radiologist usually performs the procedure using a thin needle electrode placed inside the tumor.
  • Heat is then applied to the tumor via the electrode. This heat is designed to create a lesion, causing the tumor to become cauterized or burnt, effectively destroying the tumor from the inside.
  • This procedure could be repeated at other tumor sites that are to be targeted. 


NOTE: This procedure is performed at our Federal Way, Lakewood and Puyallup centers in Washington. Please call 855-643-7229 for more information.