Radiofrequency ablation is generally done in a room devoted to CT, ultrasound, or MR imaging. After you lie down on the examining table the tumour will be located, and you will receive intravenous sedation (through a tube previously placed in an arm vein) to avoid discomfort during the procedure. You may or may not remain awake, depending on how deeply you are sedated. The skin area where the needle passes through will be numbed to further decrease discomfort. Each radiofrequency ablation treatment takes about 12 to 30 minutes and the total procedure will be completed in one to three hours, depending on how many tumour sites have to be treated. After radiofrequency ablation you may receive further medication to prevent pain and nausea as the sedation wears off. Afterwards you will remain in the recovery room until totally awake and ready to leave for home. Only about two percent of patients will still have any degree of pain a week after radiofrequency ablation.
Organs and tissues near the liver, such as the gallbladder, bile ducts, diaphragm, and bowel loops, are at risk of being injured. When this happens, surgical correction may be necessary. This only happens three percent to five percent of the time, however, and is related to the exact location of the liver tumour that is treated.