The Use of Radiofrequency Ablation in the Treatment of Musculoskeletal Tumors

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Dustin Volkmer, MD, Michael Sichlau, MD and Timothy B. Rapp, MD J Am Acad Orthop Surg, Vol 17, No 12, December 2009, Musculoskeletal tumors, both primary neoplasms and metastatic lesions, present a therapeutic challenge for the physician who wishes to provide palliative pain relief using the least invasive approach. The increasing sophistication of imaging modalities such as CT in precisely localizing neoplasm, coupled with the widespread use of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) for treatment of other types of tumor, has generated interest in using RFA to treat musculoskeletal tumors. Primary bone tumors (eg, osteoid osteoma) and metastatic bone tumors have been successfully treated with RFA. Success rates with RFA are equal to those with standard surgical curettage, but RFA has the advantage of decreased surgical morbidity. The procedure is relatively safe, is well-tolerated by the patient, and typically can be performed on an outpatient basis. The most common serious complication reported is localized skin necrosis, which occurs rarely. RFA appears to be a viable minimally invasive approach for palliative treatment of selected bone tumors.

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