Microwave Ablation for Cancer: Physics, Performance, Innovation, and the Future

Reference work entry


Microwave treatment (MW) for cancer dates back to the 1970s, with continuous development, innovation, and clinical improvements ongoing to the present day. MW physics is reviewed to demonstrate the inherent performance advantages with significant penetration and time-savings compared to competing energy sources which have pioneered contemporary ablation therapy. A review of current antenna designs and their performance is covered, as well as historical designs that provide much of the basis of current clinical use. To address ever larger tumors, the transition from single to multiple antennas is discussed, including antenna arrays powered synchronously versus asynchronous operation and the advantages. The progression from low power (5–15 W) to high power (60–200 W) in the present day systems is discussed, as well as the differentiation among frequencies of 433, 915 and 2,450 MHz, including antenna dimensions and practicality in relation to various treatment target sites. The utilization of numerical modeling is shown both for power deposition patterns, temperature distribution predictions, and predictions of ablation coverage. To optimize MW thermal therapy, several aspects of localization and treatment are discussed, which are slowly evolving to aid in more precise treatment, guided by real-time assessment. Evolutionary aspects of treatment include treatment planning, image guidance, coregistration, navigation, and real-time treatment assessment. Many of these aspects are under development and will provide the new and needed capabilities necessary for future systems incorporating imaging and ablation tools for the physician.


Radio Frequency Ablation Zone Specific Absorption Rate Microwave Ablation Antenna Design 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FreeFall ConsultingAustinUSA

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