Interventional Radiology: Image-Guided Tumor Ablation Services

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Patients or physicians:

Call Derek Tessier for a consultation or to request more information.
Phone: 401-444-5707
E-mail: dtessier@lifespan.org
Fax: 401-444-3486

Image-guided tumor ablation (IGTA) was first used in cancer therapy to treat liver tumors.

More recently, Rhode Island Hospital, has pioneered the successful use of IGTA in many other types of cancer including tumors of the lung, bone, kidney, adrenal gland and soft tissue.

IGTA is performed as an outpatient procedure at Rhode Island Hospital's diagnostic imaging department.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is image-guided tumor ablation?

Microwave ablation and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) are effective cancer treatments that can shrink or eliminate ("ablate") tumors by destroying them with heat. Cryoablation can ablate tumors by freezing them. Together, they are known as image-guided tumor ablation, or IGTA. The doctor inserts a thin needle electrode through a tiny puncture in the skin with guidance from CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound. Energy is then delivered to the tumor. The procedure can be performed with intravenous sedation on an outpatient basis.

There is less trauma to adjacent tissues, and the risks of infection or blood loss are much lower than with conventional surgery. In the months following tumor ablation, the dead tumor cells are eliminated through the body's natural healing process. Tumor ablation is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is considered very safe.

Should I consider IGTA instead of conventional treatment?

Depending on your medical condition, percutaneous (passed through the skin) IGTA may be used in combination with conventional cancer therapies, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy, or as sole treatment.

Because of its safety, IGTA can be an excellent option for those too frail to tolerate surgery or chemotherapy, and is useful in shrinking tumors to alleviate pain and improve quality of life. Depending on the nature of your cancer, IGTA can be curative or palliative.

Advantages of Image-Guided Tumor Ablation

  • Can be repeated if necessary
  • Usually performed on an outpatient basis
  • Low complication rate
  • Minimal risk of infection or blood loss

Is the procedure covered by insurance?

Many medical plans cover IGTA, including radiofrequency ablation, microwave ablation and cryoablation when they are used in the liver, kidney and bone. However, given the rapid advances in this medical field, 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 put on a patient gown.

An intravenous line will be inserted for fluid and sedative administration. Depending upon where the tumor is located, IGTA is potentially uncomfortable; however, medication is available during and after the procedure to control any discomfort you may feel.

Following the procedure, which usually takes from 45 to 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 CT scan to guide the probe placement, then you will be exposed to a small dose of radiation similar to the diagnostic tests you may already have had to diagnose the tumor and monitor treatment.

Image-Guided Tumor Ablation Team

Gregory Dubel, MD, is a vascular radiologist who specializes in the administration of small particles that deliver radiation directly into liver tumors that cannot be surgically removed. He is an Assistant Professor of Diagnostic Imaging at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Director of Thoracic Radiology

Terrance T. Healey, MD, director of thoracic radiology at Rhode Island Hospital, received a medical degree from the combined Dartmouth-Brown program. He completed his residency at Rhode Island Hospital and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and thoracic radiology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He is an assistant professor of diagnostic imaging at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Healey’s area of expertise involves using image-guided thermal ablation to treat lung tumors.

Director of Interventional Radiology

Jason Iannuccilli, MD, is a radiologist with particular interest in vascular and interventional radiology. He specializes in both transarterial chemoembolization and ablative technology. He is an assistant professor of diagnostic imaging and vascular interventional iadiology at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Amy Doorley, MSN, RNP
Certified Nurse Practitioner

Amy Doorley, MSN, RNP, is a certified nurse practitioner who has expertise in primary care, interventional radiology, and the assessment, education, and management of patients with gastrointestinal cancers. Doorley is also a clinical coordinator who helps guide patients through the health care system and the course of their treatment in multiple ways, including the coordination of services, facilitation of communication with health care professionals, arrangement of interpreters and transportation, assistance with insurance and financial questions, education, and emotional support.

Derek Tessier, MSN, RNP
Nurse Practitioner

Derek Tessier, MSN, RNP, is a nurse practitioner in the diagnostic imaging department at Rhode Island Hospital, and clinical manager of the image-guided tumor ablation services. Tessier received a master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island with a specialization as a family nurse practitioner. His expertise is in primary care and in the assessment, education, and management of patients undergoing tumor ablation procedures.

Robin Holley
Administrative Assistant