Microwave ablation

Last revised by Andrew Murphy on 23 Mar 2023

Microwave ablation (MWA) is the application of electromagnetic waves to treat solid tumors. By causing oscillation of polar water molecules, microwaves produce frictional heating and ultimately induce cellular death via coagulation necrosis. This technique has been largely used for the treatment of tumors in the liver, kidney, lung, and bone. 


  • over radiofrequency ablation (RFA)
    • less heat sink effect 
      • allowing efficient ablation close to large vessels 
    • propagate into fat and calcifications
      • leading to homogeneous coagulation necrosis
    • consistently higher intratumoral temperatures
      • cause larger and fast necrosis
    • faster ablation times
      • lower doses of sedatives might be required 
    • larger tumor ablation volumes

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