While the gold standard for early stage lung cancers is still surgical resection, many patients have comorbidities or suboptimal lung function making surgery unfavorable. At the same time, more and more small lung nodules are being incidentally discovered on computer tomography (CT), leading to the discovery of pre-malignant or very early stage lung cancers without regional spread, which could probably be eradicated without anatomical surgical resection. Various ablative energies and technologies are available on the market, including radiofrequency ablation, microwave ablation, cryoablation, and less commonly laser ablation and irreversible electroporation. For each technology, the mechanism of action, advantages, limitations, potential complications and evidence-based outcomes will be reviewed. Traditionally, these ablative therapies were done under CT guidance with percutaneous insertion of ablative probes. Recently, bronchoscopic ablation under ultrasound, CT, or electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy guidance is gaining popularity due to improved navigation precision, reduced pleural-based complications, and providing a true “wound-less” option.
Part of the book: Lung Cancer