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StarBurst Advanced Tumor Procedure Now Provided By High Point Regional Health System

9/21/2009

High Point Regional Health System and High Point Radiological Services, PA announced today the introduction of the StarBurst® TALON Semi-Flex radiofrequency ablation procedure for treating tumors.

"The StarBurst is a very precise device with few side effects," said Dr. Mark Lukens. “It offers a valuable, groundbreaking treatment for people with tumors. StarBurst can destroy a tumor when surgical removal is not an option - without the side effects of more invasive techniques.”

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a localized treatment that kills the target tissue with heat, while sparing non-targeted tissue. Because of the localized nature of this treatment, patients report that RFA causes very little discomfort after the procedure and most people can resume their usual activities in a few days. Radiofrequency ablation can also be done in conjunction with chemotherapy so the tumor can be treated locally with RFA while the patient continues to be treated systemically with chemotherapy.

In the RFA procedure, specialized physicians called interventional radiologists use imaging guidance system such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to place a slender probe directly into the tumor. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, RFA can be performed with either general or local anesthesia. Once the probe is positioned, a bouquet of very thin, flexible electrodes is extended from the end of the probe into the tissue to encompass the tumor.

Using a radiofrequency generator, the physician then allows a carefully-controlled amount of energy to flow through the electrodes into the tissue. This causes the tissue to heat up. Heating is sustained for a predetermined length of time, usually a few minutes. This destroys the tumor and a margin of healthy tissue to insure that the treated tumor does not return.

If the tumor does return after one treatment, RFA can usually be repeated. This modality can be used to treat patients with liver tumors that can’t be removed surgically or for painful bone lesions that standard therapies alone are unable to manage. This technique can be performed percutaneously, as an open procedure or laparoscopically, depending on the location of the tumor.

Radiofrequency energy is a very effective means of killing targeted tissue and tumors and is an important addition to the options High Point Regional Health System offers to the patients it serves,” said Dr. Lukens. “The process is rapid, typically requiring less than 10 to 15 minutes exposure time for a 3 cm ablation.”

Radiofrequency ablation is a very prevalent technology around the world. For example, last year nearly 25,000 RFA procedures were conducted in the U.S. alone.

As patients become more aware of the benefits of minimally invasive treatment options, they will be more likely to request RFA procedures. Minimally invasive treatment is associated with shorter recovery times and a quicker return to normal activity compared with surgical treatment options. Furthermore, physicians will perform these procedures on elderly patients who are more prone to comorbidities that would eliminate surgery as a treatment option for them.

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