Acculis MTA: Using microwaves to fight cancer tumours
Microsulis Medical Ltd in the South of England is one of the few manufacturers of microwave ablation equipment, a minimally invasive technique for combatting cancer. HUBER+SUHNER supplies the company with a customised semi-rigid assembly for the Acculis MTA ablation system, and is also involved in further developments as a partner for connectivity solutions.
An increasing number of people are suffering from cancer. The illness is terminal for some 7.6 million people worldwide each year; a figure that continues to grow. Experts anticipate up to 15 million cases per year by 2030. Today, tumours are typically removed surgically, which involves using a scalpel to physically separate the tumour from the patient and often entails major risks. Depending on the position of the tumour, the operations currently required can be highly complex, risky and expensive; in the lungs for example. Afterwards, patients often complain of severe pain and suffer complications, and rehabilitation is a lengthy process.
Microwave ablation: A promising technique
For some years now, there has been a new, promising and less problematic procedure known as microwave ablation. This minimally invasive technique involves making a small incision in the skin and then inserting a very thin coaxial cable into the patient’s body while the patient is lying in an imaging device such as a computer tomography scanner. Using real-time images, the surgeon can position the electric probe precisely within the tumour. Electrical power is then emitted, causing the water molecules to resonate. To achieve this, the resonance frequencies of water are used, such as 915 MHz, 2.45 GHz, 5.8 GHz or 8.0 GHz, depending on the applicable regulations in the individual country and the required electromagnetic wave penetration depth. The higher the frequency, the easier it is to control the penetration depth of the electrical energy and protect healthy tissue. The oscillations generate temperatures of up to 400 °C, which permanently destroys the tumour. Studies have shown that this technique offers the same chances of success as open surgery, but at a lower cost. Patients also recover far more quickly from the operation. Patients can be discharged just a few days after microwave ablation, compared to the weeks of hospitalization required after conventional surgery.
Complete system from England
There are very few microwave ablation equipment manufacturers worldwide. One of them is Microsulis Medical Ltd from South England, which has many years of experience in this field. The Microsulis ablation system is called ACCULIS MTA (Microsulis’ Acculis Tissue Ablation) and comprises a generator, a controller station and a probe. The generator provides the energy, acts as a user interface and is connected to the controller station via a microwave cable. The controller station regulates the entire system, ensuring that the correct output is delivered at all times and keeping the probe temperature stable outside of the tumour cell. The probe mainly comprises a flexible coaxial cable and a semi-rigid cable, guided through a steel cannula which is ultimately inserted into the patient’s body. The front 10 cm of the probe are located in the tumour at temperatures of up to 400°C. The remainder of the steel cannula lies partly within and partly outside of the patient’s body, along with a flexible cable that rests on the patient’s skin. To avoid burns, a closed-loop water circuit actively cools the whole probe to 48 °C. For reasons of hygiene, each probe is used only once and then disposed of. This requires high unit volumes.
Connectors from HUBER+SUHNER
HUBER+SUHNER supplies the semi-rigid assembly for Acculis MTA; it can easily be integrated with the customer’s system and, during the operation, resides within the steel cannula for the probe which is inserted into the patient’s body. The MCX connector at one end perfectly meets the requirements and basic mechanical parameters defined by Microsulis. The other end of the assembly leads to an antenna which HUBER+SUHNER terminates using state-ofthe- art technology. HUBER+SUHNER is also involved in other current and future equipment development projects being conducted by Microsulis from the outset as a partner for connection solutions.
Smaller components, improved chances of recovery
Microwave ablation will continue to establish itself in the treatment of cancer. To support this, the market requires increasingly smaller and more flexible probes for operations within blood vessels, or for entering the body via existing orifices such as the nose or the mouth. The aim in future is to treat tumours in places that are virtually inaccessible today, and which still involve complex and risky operations to remove them. For this, HUBER+SUHNER offers extremely small, highly-flexible and low-loss microwave cables and specially designed connectors. It is hoped that these smaller components will continue to improve the chances of recovery in future.