Renal cell carcinoma is most commonly diagnosed in the sixth or seventh decade of life. Historically, surgical extirpation was the gold standard treatment option for small renal masses. However, given the comorbidities in this elderly population, not all patients are candidates for surgery. The development of minimally invasive ablative therapies has solved the surgical dilemma in this patient population. Furthermore, the 2017 American Urological Association guidelines recommends consideration of percutaneous image guided thermal ablation as a treatment option for masses smaller than 3 cm even in healthy individuals. Percutaneous image guided thermal ablation is an attractive treatment option providing excellent local tumor control, fewer complications, better preservation of the renal functions, faster recovery and shorter hospital stay. Various ablative modalities are available in clinical practice. This includes radiofrequency ablation, cryoablation, microwave ablation, irreversible electroporation, high intensity focused ultrasound, and laser ablation. In this review, we focus on the most commonly used modalities including radiofrequency ablation and cryoablation and to a lesser extent microwave ablation and irreversible electroporation.
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