About Your Ablative Therapy

This information explains how to prepare and what to expect from your ablative therapy.


Ablative therapies are used to kill tumor cells. Tumors can be ablated using hot or cold temperatures, lasers or chemical agents. The treatment reaches the tumor through a special needle. A CT, MRI scan, or ultrasound is used to guide placement of the needle directly into the tumor(s). The treating agent is then delivered through the needle causing the tumor to die. The procedure is performed by a doctor in Interventional Radiology. These doctors specialize in image-guided procedures.

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Preparing for Your Procedure

You will meet with the interventional radiologist who will do your procedure. At that time, he or she will explain the procedure. You will be asked to sign a consent form.

You will also need to have a presurgical testing (PST) visit three to seven days before your procedure. This will be scheduled for you. During your PST visit, you will have a history and physical, as well as an EKG.

Please follow these instructions to prepare for your procedure:

  • Review the card Common Medicines Containing Aspirin and Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Products.
  • Do not take aspirin or any product that contains aspirin for 10 days before the procedure. You should stop products that vitamin E for 10 days prior to your procedure. Tell your doctor if you take aspirin to prevent a stroke. Ask what you should do.
  • Do not take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory products for 24 hours before the procedure except for COX -2 inhibitors, which can be continued. Examples of COX -2 inhibitors are:
    • Celecoxib (Celebrex®)
    • Meloxicam (Mobic®)
    • Rofecoxib (Vioxx®)
    • Valdecoxib (Bextra®)
  • If you are taking a blood thinner, ask the doctor who prescribed it when you should stop it before your procedure. Examples of blood thinners are:
    • warfarin (Coumadin®)
    • dalteparin (Fragmin®)
    • enoxaparin (Lovenox®)
    • Heparin injected under the skin (subcutaneously)
  • If you take insulin or pills for diabetes, ask your diabetes doctor if you must:
    • Stop your medication
    • Change your normal dose
    • Take it at a different time
  • Call Interventional Radiology before your procedure if you develop any illness, including a fever, cold, flu, or a sore throat.
  • Do not eat or drink after midnight on the night of the procedure. You can drink clear liquids up to 2 hours before the time you were told to arrive at the hospital.

You will receive 2 telephone calls 1 business day before your procedure. If your procedure is on a Monday, you will be called on Friday. It is important that we have a phone number where we can reach you. It could be your home, office, hotel, or cell phone. If you give us your cell phone number, make sure the phone is charged and turned on.

A nurse will call you between 8:00 am and 7:00 pm to:

  • Review your instructions
  • Confirm information about your procedure
  • Complete a brief assessment
  • Answer your questions

The second call will be from the Admissions Center telling you when to arrive. This call will be between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm. If you do not receive this call by 7:00 pm, please call 212-639-7881.

On the day of the procedure, please be aware that many things can impact the start time of your procedure. The procedure before yours may last longer than expected. An emergency procedure may need to be done in the room for which you are scheduled.

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The Day of Your Procedure

  • Your medicines will be reviewed during the pre-surgical testing visit and by the nurse who calls you the day before the procedure. Take all medicines you were approved to take with a small sip of water or another clear liquid.
  • Bring your medicines with you.
  • If possible, wear glasses instead of contact lenses. If you do not have glasses, bring a case to put your contacts into before the procedure.
  • Leave valuables and jewelry at home.
  • Bring only the money you need. For example, you might want to buy a newspaper.

Enter the hospital through the main entrance at 1275 York Avenue. Take the M elevators at the top of the escalator to the 2nd floor. As you step off the elevator, enter the double doors to the Pre-Surgical Center. Check in at the desk. Please arrive on time.

  • In the Pre-Surgical Center (PSC), you will change into a gown, robe, and slippers. An intravenous (IV) line will be started. When you are ready, you will be escorted to Interventional Radiology.
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You will be assisted onto the procedure table. Your legs may be shaved to allow for placement of pads that are required for the procedure. Fluids and medicines to make you sleep will be given through the IV line.

Your skin will be cleaned with an antiseptic and covered with sterile drapes. A local anesthetic will be injected in the area where the doctor will be working. Images of the area will be obtained so that the needle can be placed in the tumor. When the needle is in the right place, the ablation will begin.

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A small dressing will cover the site where the needle was inserted. You will stay in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) until you are fully awake. During this time, your nurse will be watching you closely. When you are awake, you will be transferred to a regular hospital room.

Most patients will be in the hospital for a day. While you are in the hospital, let your doctor or nurse know if you have pain. They will also ask you about your pain twice a day.

You will have ongoing follow-up imaging and doctor’s appointments. These are to make sure that the treatment has completely killed the tumor.

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If you have any questions or concerns, talk with a member of your healthcare team. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at ____________________. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, please call____________________. If there’s no number listed, or you’re not sure, call 212-639-2000.
About Your Ablative Therapy
©2015 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - Generated on August 30, 2015