Radiofrequency Ablation for 110 Malignant Liver Tumours: Preliminary Results on Percutaneous and Surgical Approaches

J.Wong, K.F.Lee, P.S.F.Lee, S.S.M.Ho, S.C.H. Yu, W.W.C. Ng etc


BACKGROUND: Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) has been widely applied for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma and liver metastases. The reported mortality and morbidity rates are low. The aim of this study is to evaluate the safety and efficacy of RFA, and compare the results performed percutaneously versus surgically.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: From 2003 to 2006, 79 patients with hepatic malignancies (59 hepatocellular carcinoma, 20 liver metastases) with a total of 110 lesions underwent RFA in our centre. Post-ablation assessment by CT scan was performed in all patients at 1-, 3- and 6-month intervals. Post-procedural complications, recurrence and survival were analysed.

RESULTS: The patients’ mean age was 60.0 years. In 46.8% of cases, we used a percutaneous approach; in 53.2% of cases, a surgical approach (8.9% laparoscopic; 44.3% open) was used if percutaneous approach was not feasible. The mean tumour size was 2.4cm. Within the surgical group, 69% of patients received concomitant operative procedures such as cholecystectomy and hepatectomy. No treatment-related mortality was observed. Immediate complications occurred in five patients (6.3%), including gastric serosal burn (n=1), ground pad superficial skin burn (n=1), intra-abdominal bleeding (n=2) and pleural effusion (n=1). All patients except one attended subsequent follow-up, with a mean period of 16 months. Ablation was considered complete in 82.3% of patients (percutaneous approach 81.1%, surgical approach 83.3%, p=0.72). Intrahepatic recurrence was observed in 52.3%, the majority of them located away from the RFA site. Extrahepatic recurrences were observed in 16.9% (percutaneous approach 16.7%, surgical approach 17.1%, p=0.76). The overall one- and two-year survival rate was 93.7% and 74.4% respectively, and no statistically significant difference was observed between the two approaches.

CONCLUSION:RFA is a safe and effective procedure for treating patients with malignant liver tumours. No difference in short term outcomes was observed between percutaneous and surgical approaches. A more prolonged follow-up study is required to assess longer-term outcomes.