About the procedure

Patients who have cancer that has metastasized (spread from one location in the body to another) to the bone know about pain. These metastasized tumors (“mets”) can produce “bone pain” that is difficult to endure and that often does not go away as the result of normal analgesic (pain-relieving) efforts. Fortunately, advances made in the field of interventional radiology (IR) have made it possible to relieve pain and suffering in patients with bone metastases, allowing them to lead a more normal life while undergoing treatment for their primary cancer.

Pain management of bone metastases requires an interdisciplinary approach, in which MTVIR’s interventional oncology specialists in Dallas work together with oncologists, radiation oncologists and surgical oncologists as a team to provide relief to patients. Metastatic cancer cells damage bones by making them weak (producing substances that dissolve bone structure, making them more prone to breakage), making them hard and brittle (a process called sclerosis), and by causing nerve endings in the affected bones to send more pain signals to the brain. State-of-the-art interventional radiology procedures allow MTVIR specialists to insert a probe directly into the metastatic tumors themselves and eliminate them using heat (radiofrequency ablation), cold (cryoablation), electrical current (microwave ablation), or chemicals (chemoembolization).

What to expect

The procedures will be performed in a hospital by experienced MTV IR interventional radiologists. Depending on the location of the bone metastases being worked on, you will be prepped by medical staff and given either local anesthesia (a painkiller to numb the area where tiny catheters are inserted plus a sedative to help you relax) or general anesthesia. The radiologist inserts a tiny needle or catheter near the location being treated and then uses X-ray fluoroscopy or CT scans to precisely position it near or within the tumors themselves.

At this point, destruction of the tumor is most often achieved by radiofrequency or microwave ablation (using sound waves to expose cancerous tissues to high temperatures for several minutes), or via cryoablation (reducing the tumor to subzero temperatures using liquid nitrogen), after which the bone is stabilized with a special cement. The procedure also kills nerve endings in the vicinity of the metastasis, thus helping to relieve the patient’s perception of pain.

Getting the best pain management care possible

At MTV IR, all of our specialists are board-certified interventional radiologists with years of experience in using these state-of-the-art techniques, with a focus on helping the oncology patient. We work closely with your other doctors to prescribe and deliver curative and palliative treatment methodologies to fight the cancers themselves, and at the same time help to reduce pain so that each patient has the highest quality of life possible.