Lifespan Cancer Institute

Frequently Asked Questions About Image-Guided Tumor Ablation (IGTA)

Is image-guided tumor ablation covered by insurance?

Many medical plans cover IGTA — including radiofrequency ablation, microwave ablation, and cryoablation — when they are used in the liver, kidneys, and bones. However, given the rapid advances in this medical field, treatment of other areas may or may not be covered by your insurance.

We recommend that you discuss this in advance with your doctor and consult your health insurance provider. There are patient financial advocates available to you to help you navigate insurance and billing issues.

What can I expect on the day of the treatment?

On the day of the procedure you will be directed from the admissions area of the hospital to the diagnostic imaging department, where you will be asked to change into a patient gown.

An intravenous line will be inserted so that you can receive fluids and sedative medication. Depending upon where the tumor is located, IGTA can be uncomfortable. However, medication is available during and after the procedure to control any discomfort you may feel.

Following the procedure, which usually takes between 45 and 90 minutes, you will spend a few hours in a special recovery area before going home. Most patients can return to their usual activities within a few days.

Will I be exposed to radiation during the procedure?

Radiofrequency (RF) waves, like X-rays, microwaves, and visible light, are a part of the electromagnetic spectrum. However, RF waves are much lower in energy and too weak to affect the chemical structure of cells or cause genetic damage. Unlike X-ray radiation, radiofrequency waves do not adversely affect the immune system.

If your procedure requires a CT scan to guide the probe placement, you will be exposed to a small dose of radiation, similar to that you received during imaging tests to diagnose the tumor and monitor treatment.

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